Nguleeki ari. The heat has come. It has crept its sweaty cloak of suffocating heaviness over the Fuuta. The cold fights it hesitantly, holding apathetically and apologetically onto a few wee hours at night. It feels like a losing battle between a passive Pulaar herder and a large abrasive Wolof man. The nights were cold until this past week–a blanket now only necessary between the early morning hours of 3 to 5. And then from there the heat climbs until the high of noon when the sun is blazing down directly on our heads. Right now it is early evening–5 pm–and the thermometer reads 108 degrees F.
I have gone back to telling everyone I meet about how hot it is. Then I jest that when the hot season really comes, I will die. So ceedu ari, mi maayat. People laugh. At me and all the toubakoobe who do not know the heat like those born in the Fuuta.
And so it begins. The hot season is:
- Food sweats and wondering why eating hot rice in the heat is a good idea in any way
- swatting at invisible flies while simultaneously realizing it is sweat I am swatting at
- back sweats and terrible body odor that I never knew my body could produce
- failing but trying to wipe the sweat from my face with an already wet arm
- did you wet the bed or did I?
- praying for a cross wind at night to make the sweat on my body feel cold
- “cowlick snuggles”–snuggles named after the autumn mini hot-season (kawle) between rainy and cold season that involves laying as far away as is physically possible from Paul at night to prevent extreme heat exposure
- Wondering how many times per day the people of the Fuuta consider moving south
- sucking down creme glace by the 100 cfa for a short but instant and glorious relief
- counting every 25 cfa (0.05 USD) I spend as one more creme glace not eaten
- cursing the refrigerator in the regional house because the freezer works quite inefficiently when it is most necessary
- telling each donkey, horse, cow, goat, or sheep I see standing under the sun how dumb it is and how it needs to go hide in the shade (or cursing its owner for tying it under the sun)
- cursing the Pulaar conservative dress code of long dresses and pants past the knees
- drinking water cautiously from my water bottle, just in case the water is of boiling temperature
- remembering Jonno asking me what the purpose and importance of a desert ecosystem is to the world
- ignoring how dark my pee is
- did I mention eating creme glace?
- dreaming of ice and ice cream or at least sitting in a tub of ice
- taking more than one bucket bath and shower per day
- estatically exclaiming in the absolute gloriousness of nature and evolution in making plants and animals that can survive living in such a harsh climate (mainly trees with lots of spines and creatures with humps and large ears)
- using the heat as an excuse to stop digging in the garden at 11 am in the morning
- line-drying clothes in record time
- re-inspiring me to consider planting trees for the rest of my service
- reaffirming my belief that cold water is the best thing in the world
- potential to see some amazing sand storms at the end of hot season