Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Harmattan Gets Cooking

Here is the post where I mention the change in the weather. It is also the time where I use a new word that has yet to enter the vocabulary for those of us in the states not familiar with African seasons, especially sub-Saharan Africa. I will not do it justice in describing the Harmattan so you may wish to read more about it on Wikipedia. It is a long spell of dry weather which comes from the north and brings with it a lot of dust and apparently some cool weather. Lately I have noticed a few things changing.

The ground is thoroughly dry. Most of the grasses on campus are starting to wither a bit in the mid-day sun and for lack of a drink. The one day that I remember it rained was more than a week and a half ago, the one day where I had laundry out to dry. Prior to this change in conditions it was raining almost once a day and abundantly so at that. Now, very clear skies and temperatures that are approaching the mid-90s. The dirt paths and roads that have heavy erosion still showing and which used to shift relentlessly underfoot for all the mud present are now dusty and hard-packed earth. It is still hard to imagine what appears to be a jungle environment can become this arid.

The humidity has dropped in the past three weeks. I was constantly checking a weather site to see what I was perspiring through and the humidity level was always near the 50% mark. Lately I have noticed that the figure is now closer to 35% which makes the heat a bit more bearable but the air is a tad dry. Many Ghanaians have told me that my lips will start to crack soon due to the conditions but I hope to use some lip balm that I received a few packages ago to combat this. It does make the jump in temperatures tolerable though.

In the late evening and early morning it feels quite cool outside. When a family on the grounds of the campus was offering me wool blankets it did not make much sense to me to buy one. Then a few nights with the fan on a low setting in my room had me near shivering in the morning. I bought one and have had a nice warm bed to take comfort in on those cool mornings. I do recall someone saying that the days where that happens are not here to stay, which means at some point the days will become much hotter and no blankets are required, but for the moment it is quite pleasant. The thermometer in my house this morning read somewhere just above 75F which, coupled with low humidity, made it feel almost like air conditioned comfort.

As far as changing seasons is concerned, this does not make up for autumn and winter back home. I realize some will say I have it lucky to find such nice weather all year round but this climate has a perverse effect on my sensation of time. It still is not December yet. It never stopped being July save for a few rainy days where I might have given in to thoughts that it was August with late afternoon thunderstorms. I realize I miss the seasons a bit here and I doubt I am going to wake up to find frost on the windows any time soon.

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