Cold season is real

I arrived in The Gambia in the height of summer. There were days I didn’t think I’d survive despite living through more than 20 Las Vegas summers of more than 120 degrees. But the Mojave doesn’t even compare to Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gambia summer is hot, unbearably hot. So hot, with humidity so thick, the air presses in on you and steals your breath. It’s a heat that can make 5 steps feel like 5 miles. It can make you pray for rain even if you haven’t prayed in years. It can make you shave your head. It’s the kind of heat that means bucket baths every two hours just to find two seconds of relief. It’s smelly bodies and seemingly permanent heat rash. It’s drinking 5 liters of water and still not having to pee. It’s sleeping in your underwear and sweating through your sheets.

Everyone promised the weather would change. But I didn’t believe in a cold season, not even for a second. In November, though, I noticed I wasn’t waking up drenched in sweat. In fact, by the end of that month, I even started feeling, dare I say – a bit cool – in the early mornings. By December, I was freezing. I started sleeping dressed in long pants, a long-sleeved flannel and under a blanket, only to still wake up cold.

“Could it be?” I thought. “Is cold season real?”

The first thing I did when I got on the computer in the city was check the weather. The temperature had indeed dropped, but it had yet to dip below 70 degrees, even overnight. Welcome to cold season!

Also, I am now a wimp. But at least I’m not the only one!

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My little brother, Muhammed, 1 1/2 years old

–JDF