Let’s Talk About Heat

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Let’s Talk About Heat

You know how you feel this Fourth of July week, Minnesotans? Sticky, wet, tired, cranky, exhausted? A Walmart cashier said to me, “I think this heat is making people crabby” after someone yelled at her for forgetting to ring up my watermelon, which in fact, she had not forgotten to do. I don’t want to make you feel bad, this is hot. I feel hot. And sweaty. But I’m still going to ramp it up a bit for you, just for kicks.

So…pull on long pants or a long skirt, a shirt with elbow-length or longer sleeves, drape a full-body length black thin cloak over yourself, put a scarf either on your head or around your shoulders.

Turn off the air conditioner.

Remove most of the shade-giving trees and all of the cool grass.

I’m serious, turn off the air conditioner.

You may turn on a fan from 9-12:00 in the morning, 1-5:00 in the afternoon, and 6-7:00 in the evening. Tomorrow you might be able to turn it on all day, depending on the electric company. Here’s to hoping, although the fan pretty much only feels like blowing a hair dryer in your face anyway. For the hours when the fan is off, try not to leave damp handprints on the pages of your book, drip sweat into the lunch you prepare, or attempt to wrap presents. The tape won’t stick.

Try to move as little as possible while teaching English, grocery shopping, house-cleaning, running, overseeing homework, playing football (soccer), cooking, developing small businesses, learning and using a foreign language, and cultivating relationships.

Let's Talk about Heat

Forget about that cold shower you’re day-dreaming about. The temperature of your water is solar controlled, meaning by the actual sun. Meaning there is no cold water.

At night, move your entire family into a single bedroom, the floor may resemble one large mattress. This is okay. Go to sleep. Try not to step on anyone or wake anyone up with your headlamp, coughing fit, or middle of the night bathroom jaunt. You may (finally and with great joy) turn the a/c on to sleep but turn it off and on at alternating 1.5 hour intervals throughout the night to ensure no one gets a complete night’s sleep and to ensure that you are all either shivering or sweating.

Now, remind yourself that this is early May.

This is the beginning of the hot season. There will be no ‘cooler’ days until late October, the temperature will only rise for the next six months.It is going to get hotter and more humid. Until it gets less humid and extremely more hotter. You don’t care that “extremely more hotter” is bad grammar. That’s how you talk when it is 120 degrees, heat index passing 140, you are wearing a black cloak, and no one in your family or nation has slept through the night since April. You say ‘I don’t care’ about a lot of things.

Welcome to Djibouti.

How are you staying cool this steamy summer?

By |July 6th, 2012|Categories: Djibouti Life|Tags: |12 Comments


  1. Elinor July 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Good job putting this heat in perspective. That’s why I only visited Djibouti in the winter when the temp was only 85 and I wore all those clothes. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone survives that 6-month summer heat. Hannah told me recently she would work for an hour with her language helper and then they’d take a nap in the one room with air conditioning. i.e. paying Asha to take a nap. Since she has NO electricity ever, that must have been a luxury to her.

  2. Lauren July 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I still can’t believe our visit was in a “cooler” month. The heat there is crazy!!

  3. Barb July 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    When you do get to take a cold shower, you can’t even dry off afterwards because your body starts to sweat all over again. And forget putting on lotions – they just slime on your skin. In Sept I slept with the lightest weight pj’s possible, directly in front of a fan with the room ac on, with a full water bottle always available and still sweated. It was Ramadan and so I woke up at 3:30 to hear food kettles clinking as they prepared meals for the day and at 5:00 to the sound of the call to pray and at 6 to get the kids ready for school and thus the day began … But then a few weeks later I came back home to beautiful fall weather in MN while they all stayed and dripped. Thank you for serving regardless of weather!

  4. Betsy July 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    This puts things in perspective… I’ve been crabby about having to be in a too-air-conditioned office all day, goosebumps on my legs while wearing summer skirts, while looking out the window and dreaming of warming myself in the sun. (And living in southern California, I think people over-do the air here… it’s so dry that just standing in the shade usually brings enough relief… sometimes I actually miss the humidity.)

  5. Djibouti Jones July 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    These are great comments! You guys make me laugh.

  6. Leslie July 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    I don’t know how you do it, Rachel. It must be a calling…

  7. Lucy July 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    😀 great post 🙂 it made me giggle from having similar experiences. 🙂

  8. Tina @GottaRunNow July 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    And I thought it was hot here in Houston! You make me really thankful for the air conditioner and shade trees!

  9. Lana January 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    yuck, no ac, either? its hot and humid with no AC where I live in Asia, but nothing like that.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones January 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      Depends on the power supply and we didn’t have a generator so we had to rely on an unreliable source!

  10. […] Please don’t say: yes, but it’s a dry heat. People who live here don’t say things like that. Its 122 degrees of dry heat). The time of year that candles melt without being lit and tires explode and gum turns into liquid […]

  11. […] don’t start sweating until 41 degrees Celsius. (they sweat a lot in Djibouti, like everything […]

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