Thursday, October 27, 2011

Living Without Air Conditioning

"It's not as hot as hell here but you can see and feel hell."

The weather this week has been something else. The highs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were all above 100. Some news reports said it got up to 107 yesterday here. It is miserably hot - so hot in fact - that even the Batswana are complaining about the heat. As I left work yesterday, I opened the front door and stepped outside. I was immediately hit by a blast of hot air, as if I has stepped into an oven or someone was holding a blow dryer in front of my face. A coworker who walked out behind me said, "Ah! Even the air is hot today!"

At best, extreme heat like this makes my life uncomfortable; at worst, downright miserable. I feel like I am always dripping with sweat and just walking around will leave my shirt soaked through and sticking to my back. 

Much like the winter weather here, when I first heard about the summers, I scoffed. After all, I had lived in a desert before. I even lived in Las Vegas during the summer. How bad could it really be?

What makes this heat so bad is that its hard to get away from it and cool down. I walk everywhere, so there isn't a chance to get in a car and blast the A/C. (Even if I did take a taxi, they don't run the A/C, they just crack a window). Then, when I get home already hot, tired, and sweaty from walking around, my house is hot. The tin roof and concrete walls that seemed to amplify the cold during the winter, now trap heat like a sauna. 

Once I am home my strategy revolves around sitting in front of a fan on its highest setting, drinking as much cold water as I can (I keep 7.5 liters in my fridge at all times), holding ice packs on my wrists and neck, and wearing minimal clothing. I try to do as little cooking as possible because the stove and oven quickly raise the temperature in the kitchen to unbearable levels. 

When it is time for bed I run a cold bath (and if I am really miserable, I add ice) and sit in it until I start to shiver. Then I jump out and get in bed with the fan turned all the way up, hoping that it will keep me cool enough to fall asleep. Most nights I am lucky to get more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

I have always preferred summer to winter and hot weather to cold weather, but I may be rethinking that in the coming months.