In spite of being on the northern shores of Spain, the town of Santander has always overlooked upon the south toward the plains of Old Castile, whose first provincial capital she used to be.
Her back guarded by northbound cliffs, Santander's bay, "the sea's bride", gives an eastern impression to the newcomer, who's often disoriented by the oriental location of the biggest beach, el Sardinero, which completes the lie by seeming open to the north, like most Cantabrian-sea beaches, when in fact it opens a bow to the east.
When the south winds are strong, the rains dry up of one sudden blow, like figs, as the clouds are pushed back against Neptune's realm.
It was blowing hard from the south in the evening of Saturday, February 15, 1941, when a fire starting in no. 5 of calle Cádiz flattened Santander's medieval centre. Having survived the worst Civil-War bombings, Santander's oldest quarters were a well-preserved example of popular architecture, reduced to ashes in one single surada, a violent and persistent strike of southern wind, its wooden structure an easy prey for Aeolus.
A terrible picture of the aftermath shows santanderinos finding their way through their devastated city, or more precisely trying to find where the streets used to be.
Reconstruction works having been done under post-war circumstances of hardship worsened by this catastrophe, Santander is now a fantastic example of urban chaos.
When asked about solutions for this chaos, a local architect suggested a three-phase plan: 1. evacuate; 2. bomb; 3. re-build by Ikea Swedes.
This architect was perhaps a victim of la surada, a funny mood brought by the southern gusts. Those affected tend to be more communicative, of good and bad news alike. Many a bartender or policeman in town claims to know for a fact that, with the strong winds from the south, everything will me most volatile; and violence, verbal or worse, is bound to erupt, testifying to how far the forces of nature are willing to play with the minds of the human animal.