There’s HOT, and then there’s H-AH-AH-AH-T. We have now entered the latter. It’s the topic of the season. It’s pretty much always hot in Niger. With the exception of a few of the nippier days when it will only reach into the 70’s in the afternoon. Those are very few and some years are non-existent. It’s interesting though, to listen to veterens talking about the heat (present company included). You would think it’s something we’ve never experienced before. “It’s soooo hot!” “Does it always get this hot?” “This isn’t right!” “I’m sure glad I’ll be spending eternity in heaven.” “I don’t think it was this hot last year.” “I can’t stop sweating.” “God, deliver me!” I like to equate it to childbirth. A very painful experience, but when it’s over the intensity of it is forgotten until one experiences it again. This is what the experience of hot season is like every year. During the rest of the year we do plenty of sweating so we think “how much worse can it get? I mean 100 degrees is hot, right? How wrong we are.
During hot season:
Temps are commonly above 110 degrees, and often reach 120 (or more).
A cold shower is impossible (you actually have to let the tap water run so as not to get burned)
Candles melt in their holders, unlit (ours are melted into very interesting designs)
Walls are too hot to touch
Butter melts in a matter of minutes
Food spoils quickly – in the fridge
When sitting at your computer there’s no need to wonder whether it’s a bug crawling down your back or if it’s rolling sweat. It’s sweat.
It’s 94 degrees at midnight.
Certain hinder body parts stick to the commode (just being real, and I don’t usually use the word ‘commode’)
Clothes come out of the dresser drawer feeling like they came fresh out of a dryer set on ‘high heat’.
Shampoo is naturally heated.
The kitchen maintains a temperature of over 100 degrees – unless one does something as absurd as turning on the oven. Then it’s much hotter.
I could go on. Why, one might ask, do we not just use AC? Well, as a matter of fact, we do. For sleeping, and when we’re real desparate, we use an AC in the office in the afternoon. Frankly, it’s used conservitively because of the cost of electricity. Let me explain. When we moved to Niamey this past August and decided to put ac’s in the bedrooms, our goal was to keep our electric bill at 200,000cfa ($400) per month or less. This has been quite a challenge, particularly with the falling dollar. Today, 8 months later, that same 200,000cfa costs us $500/month. So though we’re not gaining any watts, we’re paying $100 more. That’s running AC’s in the bedrooms for sleeping only, and using an AC in the office in the evenings and like I said, when desparate, in the afternoons. And of course other regular stuff – lights (flourescent), fans, fridge, freezer.
We sometimes struggle with the knowledge of how much $ we spend to stay cool – thinking about all of the other areas in the ministry we could put that $ instead. That and the fact that the vast majority of the nation lives without electricity – without even a fan to blow the hot air around! We have, however, learned that a good night sleep goes a long way to our longevity and effectiveness in Niger.
And then we can look on the bright side. Even though we do have to ration our AC usage, we don’t have to worry about pesky things like heating our house, frostbite, wearing bulky clothes, scraping frost off of our windshield, etc.
Anyway, this too shall pass. It shall return to just being ‘HOT’.