By Conor Sanchez
June usually signifies the start of summer, getting outdoors, taking vacations, and enjoying warm weather. Here in Nicaragua, June is the start of winter, which means tons of rain followed by lots of mud and, most importantly, cooler temperatures.
Lucky for us, winter seems to have arrived a few weeks early and Michaela and I couldn’t be happier after experiencing some of the hottest months of our lives.
During most of March and April, the air was still, sticky, and sweltering. Without rain to wash out the skies, the air fills with a thick cloud of dust thrown up by all the cars and trucks rolling through town. We’d do most of our work in the morning, but by afternoon, you could do little more than sit inside your house with a fan blowing two inches from your face. Even then, you could feel the sweat running down the front of your shirt.
I tried everything to stay cool. Wetting my hair, taking a shower midday, putting my feet in a bucket of water. It got to the point where I actually looked forward to paying my electricity bill because it’s one of the few places with air-conditioning. The really surprising thing is just how tired it made me. A short walk to the store at 2 pm and I was spent for the next couple of hours; I returned home exhausted and tried to sit as still as possible so as not to overexert myself. Then, I’d go teach and get exhausted all over again.
Nights offered little reprieve, especially if the power went out (as it occasionally does). I’ll never forget the sound of our fan – perhaps our one saving grace in an otherwise scorching evening of sleep – turning off at around 11 pm only to be left with the sound of your own breath and of course the chicharras outside. We once tried to soak our bed sheet in water (a tip given to us by a foreign service officer in Managua from her time in India), but that just seemed to add to the humidity. Also, it just felt…weird. So, don’t do that if you’re super hot one night.
Likewise, I’ll never forget the relief felt when the power returned five hours later giving us at least a few hours of cooler temperatures and a deeper REM cycle. Until around 9 am, it was actually cool enough to think straight so I’d go over my lesson plan, write a bit, and study for the LSAT (which I’m taking in June). Then, I’d walk to class, arrive drenched in sweat, and get stared at for the next hour because for some insane reason, I’d be the only person sweating in the entire city.
But I don’t have to worry about that anymore. From here on out, we’ll get rain pretty much every day. This is a rainforest after all. Humidity will rise a bit and the afternoon can still cause you to break a sweat without even trying, but a fierce afternoon downpour can usually be expected to break the spell and bring the temperature down. After a while, the mold will build up in our closets and it’ll take our washed clothes a week to go from soaking wet to merely damp. My running shoes will see a lot more mud in their paths. And walking across town might take triple the amount of time if I forget my umbrella (which I often do) forcing me to take shelter under a tin awning outside some lady’s pulperia as the picture above exhibits.
But I’ll take that before I ever have to go through another dry season. Good riddance, summer! Hello, winter.