Saturday, March 7, 2015
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” ― Carl Reiner
It is very hot here at present -- of course, we are in our summer. In a couple of weeks the season of the long rains is due to begin which will cool things off appreciably, but nothing has been happening at its usual time—at least here in East Africa. I measure how hot the day feels by how many cold showers I have to take from zero to three. In the summer here, there is never a zero day but often a two to three day. It has also been hotter than we have experienced in our ten years here with temperatures getting into the mid 90’s almost every single day. Out foot-thick walls and thatch-over-metal roof keep the indoor temps at least fifteen degrees cooler, and we do have fans. Every day on Facebook, we see some of our friends or family posting snow and ice pictures while we are having trouble sleeping because of the heat. To be fair, we do feel really cold when it gets to 68 degrees (Fahrenheit) especially if it is also rainy. As we are less then two degrees south of the equator, the sun shines straight down or as the locals say, “jua mkali” or the sun is fierce—amen. Tanzanians have adopted an economy of movement so that even when it is very hot, they can move from place to place without getting overheated which is hard for us Americans not to do. They do place a premium on shade and many carry parasols on hot days to keep the heat down. About a third of the population here is just as susceptible to sunburn and heat stroke as the fairest skinned mzungu (non-African). During the real heat of the day—from about one in the afternoon to three in the afternoon, almost nothing gets done. No one is working outside anyway, it is just too hot. We know it is really hot when our workers complain about it, as much as they are used to it. Still, it is never so hot that people die from the heat. I was watching a documentary the other day on heat waves and there was one in Chicago that killed hundreds, mostly elderly. There have been many killer heat waves over the last decade that have killed over a hundred people in several cities. At least where we live, the climate won’t kill you. We lived in air conditioned houses almost all our lives. In west Texas, we had evaporative coolers on the roof, but everywhere else, we had air conditioning. We didn’t have it the four years we lived in Boston, but there were only about a couple of weeks a year when it was needed, but, wow, those two weeks were terrible. We spent most of our time in air-conditioned malls and movie theaters. We also don’t live where the cold would kill us without heating in our home. I know it may sound strange to people in the real cold right now, but there have been times here when it was in the mid to high 60’s that we were wishing for central heat. We wear sweaters and wrap up in blankets in temperatures that in Boston would have people out sunning and going on picnics. The heat is also hard on the dogs since their fur coats are not removable, but they are very good at finding shade and sleeping during the hottest parts of the day. Come to think of it, I’m getting good at that, too. Well, from warm, equatorial Africa, greetings and may those of you suffering from the cold, snow, and ice, soon find the irises blooming and the Spring thaw coming. That’s the thing about the weather in all the places we lived in the U.S., it never stayed that way forever, and as much as I don’t miss the ice and snow, I do miss the seasons.