What is a mesa camilla, and how can I get one in the US?

Despite the title, I don’t think I am going to be able to answer question #2, but I do hope to let you all know how amazing this Spanish invention is. As anyone who has spoken to me in my life knows, I am not very good at handling cold weather, because I can be freezing in July. Every winter I am complaining about the temperature, regardless of my location or how cold it actually is outside. And anyone who has spoken to me in the past 3 months knows that it is unconscionably cold here in Spain. I don’t mean that it is snowing, slip and fall on your butt because there is so much ice, the wind won’t ever stop blowing cold. I mean that it is probably around 60 degrees Fahrenheit every day, give or take 5 degrees.

Doesn’t sound cold? Oh but I beg to differ. You see, my house, and my school, and every building in the entirety of Alcalá, is carpetless. I never really appreciated the utility and warmth of wall-to-wall carpeting until I had tile floors everywhere. Another thing most places lack: central heating. In my piso I have 2 wall units which I can use to make the house warm. Not only are they electricity eaters, but for heat they are terribly inefficient, and I also only have 2: one in my bedroom and one in my living room. Anywhere else in my house and I just have to freeze. I have taken to wearing 2 pairs of socks inside my house and often wandering from room to room wrapped up in a blanket that I found in the closet in the spare bedroom. It was clearly intended for my landlord’s children once, because it is a happy blue color and has a bunch of smiling cartoon faces traveling around in planes and helicopters. I actually have 3 such blankets, but this one is the best because sewn inside the blanket, there is another blanket.

So what does one do when one can have feet the temperature of ice cubes even in the middle of summer? One turns on the mesa camilla, of course. Something I didn’t know: “camilla” also means “stretcher” or “gurney” when not accompanied by the word “mesa”. . . how interesting! Anyway, when I moved in, I quickly got fed up with an enormously awkward and in-the-way table taking up most of the living room. To be honest I kind of wanted to dismantle it so that I could open my front door all the way without feng shui-ing the whole room. But I guess in about mid-November, my landlady came over wanting to know where the “skirt” for the table was. “I put it in your closet,” she insisted. I couldn’t really understand why an already annoying table needed a skirt, and also I was sure there was no such thing in my closet, but I dutifully went upstairs and looked in every part of my closet (and pulled a muscle in my shoulder) before finally finding a plastic bag with a distressing amount of fabric inside.

When I came back downstairs, my landlady and her nephew were maneuvering the legs of the table into a sort of frame with a hole in the center. Having accomplished that, my landlady proudly held up a circular space heater, as if to say, “Tada! You have about 10 seconds to make some sense out of this before this interaction becomes socially awkward.” “Gracias,” I ventured, not really sure what else to say. Obviously the space heater was meant to go in the hole in the frame, but why? And what was the purpose of giving me a new space heater only to cover it up with a table skirt? How was the room supposed to get warm that way? And wouldn’t that catch the table and eventually the entire house on fire? Meanwhile, my landlady was putting the heater in the hole and arranging the skirt over the table. As a finishing touch, she plugged in the heater and sat down on the couch, pulling up the end of the table skirt over her lap and looking at me as if to say, “See?”

OH, I felt like saying. Instead, I sat down next to her and copied her, and the most amazing thing happened. My feet suddenly became warm! The hot air, trapped under the table, rushed out wherever I lifted the table skirt. I put my hands under the table and warmed them up too. At some point my landlady went back to her own part of the house, but I didn’t care. I had found the key to getting through winter in the coldest house I had ever lived in. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I want to steal this contraption and bring it with me wherever I go. I have even been late for things because I couldn’t bring myself to get up off the couch and go where it was cold. I’m sitting on the couch right now with my feet all toasty warm under the table, and it is about time for me to go upstairs and read, shower, and go to bed, but . . . it’s too cold.

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One Response to What is a mesa camilla, and how can I get one in the US?

  1. Your posts are great, but would love a visual!

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