Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Heatwave! This is my island in the sun...

I thought this kind of heat only existed in a place I never had to worry about going, praise the Lord. I was wrong.

I’ve spent Augusts marching on black asphalt in Texas. Nothin’. I’ve never been so hot in all my life.

I sit still in my living room, reading, not moving, and I can feel the drops of sweat converge on my skin before running down and forming puddles in funny places. There's a permanent gloss on my arms, my legs, and if I run my hand across it literally splashes off. And then I'm dry. For two more minutes.

I can recall ozone alert days in the states where David Finfrock advises you not to go outside if you can avoid it. Here, you drag a dining room chair outside to the shade and pray for a breeze because you’re simply baking in your house. The doors are open in our house from when we wake up at 5:30 in the morning to 19:00, when the mosquitoes come out. Our windows have screens. We don’t close them.

My favorite part of the day is when I "shower" by dumping cupfuls of cold water on myself. The local kids hang out in the Limpopo River all day, but we're not allowed to because of the funny stuff that lives in the water and in your skin if you swim in it. Boo.

Back home, I remember turning on my ceiling fan at night (I had a fan! In my room! Attached to the ceiling! And activated by an electric switch!) so that I could comfortably snuggle under my covers.

Here, before going to sleep, I shove all the blankets, pillows, anything else that might touch me to one side of the bed and sprawl out as best I can. Pajamas are unnecessary as well as undesirable. When I wake up in the morning, I'm already swimming, and my first thought is that I just want to guzzle a gallon of water. I’ve never worried about becoming dehydrated while sleeping before.

Keeping hydrated during the day is enough of a chore in itself. To have drinkable water, you must first pump it out of the well behind the compound, lug it home, boil it over the gas stove, let it cool (which, in this heat, can take up to six hours in itself), and then run it through the filter. In the end, it almost seems like a waste, because it hangs out in my body for about a half hour before it leaks out as sweat all over again.

What have I learned from all this? That I’m a wimp. The kids still run around and play soccer while Clancy and I try to remain as stationary as possible during the hottest part of the day (from about 6:30 to 5:00). The good news is, you get used to it! Once you accept the fact that you’re wet, you’re clothes are wet, and it’s simply going to stay that way, you move on with your life. And you don’t mind, because you’re roommate smells just as bad as you do. It’s all good.

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