The Weather in Lima

To those contemplating moving to to Miraflores in Lima, think about the sun. During the winter, May-September, the sun doesn’t come out. At all. There are no shadows in the omnipresent gloom of winter. Hard to believe but true. During the winter, in the afternoon between 5-7 pm, a cold damp wind will blow up and it will feel noticeably colder. This is when the Limenos eat “lonche” a “lunch” that is akin to British afternoon tea of a hot drink and a sandwich. Also during the winter in Lima, the smell from the fish meal processing plants often pervades the city (apparently many Limenos who live abroad relish that familiar smell when they visit).

xvfw4eo1Vqx9F9uvNtuVSZ9FI8RTUdyGwuPdi8V6hAeSwKVaSYQ8--rZyxN_f2tb88k3Jl1_d2yQWrbQw6WWvANcqvdguBNQdSdJCpuaQhPwYVOVZcziu2ojzf5wY-_yvvFNKdxw5V4tARCUqf3AhZA18SbpBdnTOmQsSxxDq-NeDnqk1gwI4jEgLn

But, in the summer, the weather can be glorious. That said, in the summer, the weather depends on where you live. If you live inland (even five blocks can make a difference) in San Borja, or Surco or La Molina, there will be sun, and often quite hot burning sun. But, if you live within blocks of the ocean in Miraflores, prepare for bouts of fog. Yes, even during the summer. I’m told, that for health reasons many people choose not to live on the coast because of the humidity in the air.

QI3-EPlXVOnjkbZqhyri_yojdCRI2Kz6ELzEcZcOe759YfX61nTcLN0r0Xt5yuaoPJOIfFNIzWmN-EKlLN8RJchRYodmPLIhyvSJUKCWaIesVhyYmb-x_ciT9m-GGTD4gRtrJ2Fqh5caUbCbPxKRryWmN5ZMCUOQWcRtBR-8bn3tRSuWTV17yk8YUe

Another thing about the weather in Lima — it never rains. Ever (a few piddly drops is not rain in my books). Lima is a desert city on a coast. No rain storms although there is usually a nice wind blowing on the coast.

The temperature in Lima stays fairly even. 70-80 in the summer. In the winter, the temperature can drop to 55-60 degrees. The locals tell me that because they are not accustomed to extreme temperatures (snow and 100 degrees), they are more sensitive to the weather. In the winter, one sees Limenos to wear puffy winter jackets and gloves.

I’ll be the person wearing sandals all year.

Monsoon in Bogota

A few nights ago, I heard a strange sound through my open windows. It was the sound of monsoon rain. Before moving here, I was told that the weather in Bogota is the same every day. Always 60 F (15 C), cloudy with a chance of sun. Now that it’s October, I’m being told another story. In October, Bogota has a rainy season. Every day for a month, the rainstorms will last longer and may include thunder and wind gusts. And, the temperature drops a few degrees. But, I’m told that come December, the weather will be really nice again.A street in Candelaria, the old part of Bogota.

A street in Candelaria, the old part of Bogota.

This “cold” weather is perhaps the reason that soup is so popular here.

I wonder if there are monsoon weddings here?

Rickshaws in the Monsoon

Note the head protection.
Note the head protection.

And now for the weather. The monsoon arrived. When it rains, the rickshaws are still a popular form of transportation. The driver will often cover his hair in a plastic bag (banned as carrier bags two decades ago) and the passengers get a blue tarp to pull over their legs.

Double protection.
Double protection.

Six Seasons of Bangladesh

Bangladesh is an alluvial delta with lots of water.
Bangladesh is an alluvial delta with lots of water. Umbrellas are for sun and rain.

Monsoon is only one of six seasons in Bangladesh. The following is how I would describe the seasons in Dhaka.

Spring (wear yellow on February 13 to mark spring!): February 13-April 14 (20-30 C = 70s and 80s F; humidity is 60 %) or “Hot with Mosquitoes and Why Am I Sweating in February?! Oh, Because It Is 90 F!”

Summer: April 14-June 15 (30-45 C = 90s and 100s F; humidity is 85 %) or “Hotter with Mosquitoes and Constant possibilities of Heat Stroke.”

Monsoon/Rainy Season: June 15-August 15 (30-40 C = 90s F; humidity is 95 %) or “Too Wet, Sweaty, and Hot for Hordes of Mosquitoes-Oddly Not As Hot As It Was.”

Autumn/Fall: August 15-October 15 (30-40 C = 90s F; humidity is 90 %) or “Hot and Dengue Mosquito Season.”

After-Autumn/Late-Fall: October 15-December 15 (20-30 C = 70s and 80s F; humidity is 80 %) or “Hot with Mosquitoes But It Is Almost Wedding Season.”

Winter: December 15-February 12 (15-30 C = 60s and up to the 90s F; humidity is 60 %) or “Wedding Season.” Which is still mosquito season.

A beautiful Bangladeshi bride.
A beautiful Bangladeshi bride during wedding season.

As the national costumes remain the same all year round, the men wear lungis and women wear sarees and shalwar kameeses, but in winter, they wrap a cloth like a shawl and a head wrap around their head. To a Bangladeshi 20 C is cold and in the winter when the temperature can drop to 10 C, there are deaths. The Bangladeshis also find warm weather pleasant since they are used to it. Most houses and apartments do not have heating and many have only one air conditioning unit.

In my experience of two monsoons, I have been surprised. In 2012, there was no monsoon. And in 2013, it has rained but not in the torrents that I expected. I have seen worse rain storms in Kuala Lumpur and Washington, DC.

The prevailing theme (you may have noticed) is that all throughout the year, there are mosquitoes and on any day, it can be 90 degrees! I have had heat stroke in December, February, and March, perhaps because I did not expect such hot weather in those months. The result has been a rather silly collection of sun hats.

Rickshaw in Monsoon Photo

In the long hot rasping breath before the monsoon, my mind turns once more to images of Bangladesh. Decades ago, the only impression I had of Bangladesh was monsoon rain and flooding. Now, I have met the man who took the rickshaw photo of my imaginings.

The photographer, Zahid "Badol", with his photo of boys playing in the mud.
The photographer, Zahid “Badol”, with his photo of boys playing in the mud.

Obviously, to my vivacious and educated Bangladeshi friends, this image is so passe. “Why must you foreigners have only such images in your heads?” To which I reply, “This is not a bad image.” I see the rickshaw puller in the monsoon flood and find it an image of tenacity and perseverance. Not a bad thing to be known for, wherever you are.

A rickshaw puller in the monsoon.
A rickshaw puller in the monsoon.