I’m not sure many people who do not live here think of the Sahara desert being only a few hundred miles from Valencia. The continent of Africa seems a world away. But we know it’s close because we have migrants that wash up in boats on our shores fleeing war, famine, and a host of other ills that compel a person to leave behind all they know and make a dangerous journey based on the slim hope of a better life.
This past month we, in Valencia, have been reminded, yet again, about just how close Africa and the Sahara are to us. We’ve spent the better part of the month with ‘cloudy’ brown skies. We have had sunny days. But even these are seen through a mist of sediment blown up to us on the winds from Africa. My washing machine on the kitchen balcony is covered with it, and it’s sticky. Jeff was so concerned about the air quality and my health, he bought a bunch of air filtration units for every room in el Compartimento. Yesterday, we opened them up to look at what they’re collecting after owning them for just a few weeks. Yuck! The three filters in the chamber were gross. We cleaned them based on factory recommendations, then Jeff just hopped online and ordered back ups. So we’re good to go. But this weekend things are going to take another turn.
Mud Rain. Have you ever heard of that? No? We hadn’t either. It’s when the sands of the Sahara blow up and over the Iberian Peninsula and the timing coincides with a spate of fog. We’ve been having fog for the past week. The sand becomes suspended in the fog at 100% humidity. Then a big rain storm comes through over the top and it hits the sands suspended in the fog. Voila! Mud Rain.
At least we have that to look forward to! You can read about it here. It means that the streets and cars will be covered in the stuff. And walking outside would have your umbrella coated in sediment. But the good news is that the dust will be out of the air, and going to the store will no longer be dangerous for vulnerable groups with breathing issues.
As he is want to do, Jeff has been tracking all this for a month. He likes data and trends. Some people obsessively track weather. Jeff has no interest in that. But everyone has a hobby. One of Jeff’s many is tracking air quality at certain points around the globe. Usually, Valencia is between 2 and 15. In the green zone. These days it’s been in the 60-160 range. We´ve had points when we were in the red. That’s not good. Now that we´re moving to Lugo he’s added that to his global tracking. We still track Seattle and Phoenix, and some other points he feels are indicators of air crises. I’m sure Valencia will be a permanent member on his list.
I’ve been researching plantsand trees that hold the most carbon year-round. We can all add them to our gardens, no matter how small, to help out the planet. Its why I’ve been so interested in any tree or plant restrictions up in Lugo. They wouldn’t help with this Saharan dust, but in digging deeper we have discovered that our bad air is currently full of other things, too. Generated by local factories and plenty of human generated pollutants. Carbon trapping plants would help with that, too. There are some interesting suggestions from the Royal Horticultural Society that we will definitely look at when we start planting hedges at the edges of the property.
Today, Jeff will be doing laundry and hanging it indoors. Usually, we only have one month a year where we can’t quickly line dry our clothes outside. Very environmentally friendly. I love it. But while normally February would have us hanging our clothes off the kitchen balcony on the line, this year with the dust we have had to bring it to the kitchen where Jeff has set up his custom laundry system of a six-sided 3-tiered drying rack with a fan/heater and dehumidifier. He can dry one load an hour this way, including denim. Equivalent to the one load an hour I get in summer on the line.
We will spend today indoors – having laid in provisions so we don’t have to leave the house until Tuesday to restock. We’ll enjoy our last dusty sunset before the Valencian mud rains comes. Watching it from inside as Mother Nature cleans out our air with 3 straight day of rain. We’re looking forward to it! Maybe there will be lightening and thunder with our Mud Rain, as there so often is here. We’ve watched almost everything on Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, Pluto, and Prime. Spending the day looking outside and watching it rain sounds like a meditation. And we will be starting March in Valencia with clean air.