Monday, November 16, 2009

Tropical Climates Aren't So Romantic After All

I was inspired to write this blog after reading my friend Lyn’s blog and her perspective on the heat in Paraguay. She is from Texas. Therefore, we have a major difference of opinion on this subject.

The temperature last week made a drastic leap from a comfortable, spring warmth to a tropical, suffocating heat. Last week was the hottest week of my life. A few storms have now come and gone and cooled off this burning country, but I had never experienced such inescapable heat. I know places get much hotter in my own country but most places in the United States with intense weather can escape it with the miracle of heating and air conditioning. How lucky we are with our fancy modern technology we can live comfortably in any climate we want any time of the year! Mostly, we are lucky that we can afford such luxuries. Of course, these technologies have made their way to Paraguay but only for the well-off and the lucky, the majority must live in their environment; they must sweat through the heat in the summer and shiver through the frosts in the winter.

The last few weeks have begun the transition into summer and it is hot and humid, even during the storms. I sweat all day and sometimes all night. Often multiple showers are necessary. On those really hot, chart topping days I fall asleep at night sweating and wake up sweating before I have even opened my eyes. It is a sweaty world and I am living in it. But, everyone else around me is just as sweaty and we bond over our mutual sweatiness. We complain about the heat, drink terere, and complain some more.

Long, crowded bus rides can be very uncomfortable experiences. The bus drivers pack the busses to maximum capacity so people are stacked on top of each other in the aisle and their limbs, butts, baggage etc… take up location on the laps and shoulders of the seated passengers. We are packed in like sardines and the only air conditioning comes from the wind passing through the open windows when the bus is on the move. To say the least, a bus ride to the capital on a hot day might be comparable to riding in a packed elevator full of strangers snuggled up close, but for 5 hours instead of just 30 seconds.

Now, I have not only come to accept my constant dirty, sweaty state of being but fully embraced it. It is impossible to be clean and fresh for too long in Paraguay, no matter what corner of the country you are in or how hard you try. The dirt seems permanently stuck under my nails, my clothes never get completely clean because I have yet to personally master hand washing them in a bucket in the back yard, and sometimes I’m just too tired or lazy to shower after a long day of interpreting Paraguayans. It’s a hot, sweaty, dirty world south of the equator….but…I have the best job in the world, I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer…I can’t complain too much in the end.


  1. I know your pain. Latin America has a stranglehold on miserable heat. Seeing you as a sweaty dirtbag makes me chuckle uncontrollably.


  2. With your prose, you've captured the essence of living with the heat. You will acclimate, eventually, so it won't be as uncomfortable as it is now. I agree with Jeff that thinking of you being dirty and sweaty does bring a certain cheer to my life, so thanks for that.

  3. Jenna - Hilarious. I can only imagine that heat - seems pretty uncomfortable, but way to just accept it instead of fighting it....even with dirt under your fingernails. Wow - you are the "rough and tough" sister I never knew I had.