These sunbeams attempt to look harmless as they cast their treacherous rays on these beds of lettuce in Bamako but beware. Harmless they are not!
On Sunday, as Ma prophesied last month, I bathed 4 times. No, I had not been engaging in hard, manual labor. Nor had I even exercised - though both are interesting ideas and ones to which I will contribute extensive thought. No, my friends and family, hot season in Mali is upon us. For those among you who have had (what I hope to be) the extreme delight of visiting, or living in, Mali - you know what I'm talking about.
Sweat creeps out of your pores before you've finished drying off from your shower. Stifling, heavy air on public transport that, even though you have a fan, leaves you sitting in stifling, heavy air. Hormonal electricity turns on and off on a whim. You finish drinking a liter of water from your Nalgene and find yourself looking longingly at the empty bottle in your hand wondering where that liter of sweet, cool liquid has gone and where the next liter will come from.
Yes, dear loved ones back in Ameriki or at least north of the Sahara desert and south of the equator, hot season in Mali is here. While you enjoy the gentle shifting of the seasons from a wrap-around porch or sip ice-cold lemonade while watching flower buds morph into spring, the cool from the breezes has been ripped cruelly from my Malian nights and been replaced by dust storms and parched plants.
Wouldn't it be great if there was an open fire hydrant for these neighborhood girls (and me!) to run through??
But don't think it's all sweat and lots of tears - there are some good things about this time of year! In that spirit, I would like to give this year's Malian hot season a special welcome with a top 10 list. Living in Bamako, I imagine my third hot season in Mali will be a little different from the past two spent 'en brusse'. Well, at least I hope it will be a little different. I'll get back to you in a few months.
In no particular, but very likely sub-consciously particular, order - my Malian hot season top 10:
1. Juicy, sweet Mangoes
2. Frozen hibiscus tea
3. An air-conditioned office
4. The National Park of Mali
5. Swimming pools
7. Heightened appreciation for sprinkler systems
8. Heightened appreciation for all things water/ice related
9. I have an excuse for looking sweaty/disheveled (even though all other Malian women continue to look as though they've just emerged from an air-conditioned salon)
10. When you come around, it means we're that much closer to rainy season
Yes, Mr. Hot Season (even though in french you are a lady), you may leave traces of dirt in folds of skin I knew not existed before (apparently I have a very crease-y neck and arms) but you, like all villains that have come before and those that will come after, do possess redeeming qualities as listed above. And while I know you are a natural progression in the changing of the seasons and I would never want to interfere with Mother Nature who I imagine to be as formidable a foe as my landlord Ma - also know that all invitations have both a start and stop time. Do your thing for a month or two but please - just don't stay too long.
Do you have any tips for surviving the hot season or good stories from ones you spent here in Mali? I'd love to hear them!