Heather in Senegal

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nov 1
Everything is finally drying after the rains, so people are now burning the trash that collected all summer, and then setting extra fires to get rid of termites and other bugs. The air around town stinks. I can't bike anywhere without going through a few clouds of foul smoke. It was gratifying to have a conversation about this with an old man whom I'm friends with. He agreed it's absurd how many fires are going these days, as well as the things people are burning. Tires, batteries, plastic, anything. "Don't they know about cancer?" he asked. Many of the streams of smoke make my nose burn.
Along with the start of the dry season and its smoke comes the cold weather. Never mind the actual temperature, it feels cold to me. I've had the sniffles for weeks. Locals have been laughing at how badly I'm handling the cold. My sister and I had a wonderful exchange about this yesterday. My sniffles grown into a fever, and I've been bumbling around in a fuzzy blanket and a ski hat. I went outside to sit in the sun and warm up, and found she was heating tea for herself. The changing weather made her sick too. She completely understood when I said the cold was making my body feel like it's closing, and that I missed the way my body opens in the hotter months. She bemoaned the lousy weather situation of Senegal, how we get months and months of heat followed by a sudden cold spell, too brief to allow acclimatization, just long enough to mess with us and make us unhappy when the heat returns. I'm suspect that back in my NY life this temperature would've been cause for shorts, but now I am bonding with my Senegalese sister about how we wish the sun would hurry up and return us to the warm sweaty weather in which our bodies thrive. Hurrah for acclimatization.


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