Hot season in Mali

Hot season has arrived in Mali,*) no question about that, and this is mentioned on all kinds of platforms, such as Facebook and different blogs.

Here is a collection of funny tidbits from some Facebook friends and their friends:

You know it’s hot season in Mali when…

…you don’t need a towel, you air-dry in less than a minute.
…you refer to a day that doesn’t hit 115F / 46C as a “cool day.”
…you stand in the shower with your clothes on so you can have the illusion of cooling as your clothes dry.
…you take cold showers on purpose.
…even the Malians say, “Boy, it’s hot.”
…you are showering your kids and they scream, “No, it’s too hot. Turn on the cold water.” You reply, “This IS the cold water!”
…you can bend your candles into any fancy shape you want.
…your clothes feel like they’ve been freshly ironed when you put them on.
…your ankles sweat.
…corned beef melts on the table before you get to make sandwiches.
…you can fry eggs on your forearm.
…all the expats in Kayes head for the border.
…the only time you are completely dry is immediately after a shower.

from Sharon & friends: You know it’s hot season in Mali when… (Facebook status)

Coping strategies:

Here are some excerpts from Jennifer’s blog about her strategies for hot season (to read all of them go here)

WATERBEDS: When waterbeds became popular in the 70s and 80s, someone decided they were the solution to a missionary’s problems in hot climates. I remember people telling us we HAD to get one. After all, if you can get a good night’s sleep, it goes a long way toward helping one cope with the strains of the day (which is true). …

The problem is that water tries to equalize itself with the air temperature. For a large body of water, like an ocean, the difference remains significant, so you can still have a cool dip in hot weather. But a relatively small body of water, like a mattress, quickly approaches the ambient temperature. Even if the room cools off at night, the warm water is contained in a huge rubber “bottle” which releases heat slowly – a month or more after the end of hot season, but certainly not in a few hours! …

Seemingly, this did not work for her, but it has worked fine for me so far. It certainly contributes to the miracle that I can sleep in a room that has 92-95F /33-35 C.  As she explains, you have to cool down the water mattress with soaked towels and fans. Depending on how hot it is, I do this one to three times per day.

SHOWERS: Did you notice how many people in the responses at the beginning referred to showers? Don’t be surprised if you come to my house and I answer the door dripping wet – if it’s not sweat, then I’ve just taken a shower fully clothed. It’s even more effective if I can sit in front of a fan afterwards. …

SLEEPING OUTSIDE: We might have avoided the waterbed fiasco altogether if we had investigated how the local people tolerate the heat. Quite simply, they move outside to sleep at night. It’s even better for those whose houses have a flat, concrete roof to sleep on. …

This was one of the big advantages of living in the village which I miss very much since moving to Bamako. In the village we had a second building with a flat roof where we could sleep on whenever the inside of the house got too hot. The only disadvantage – it is difficult to get down form the roof with all your stuff (mattress, mosquito net, sheets, alarm clock, ..) when you are overtaken by a sand storm. 😉

FANS, SWAMP COOLERS, AND AIR CONDITIONERS: We have lots of fans, but when it gets really hot they just blow hot air. However, they aren’t too bad if your clothes are wet. A swamp cooler is an evaporative cooler or humidifier, common in the American southwest, that blows air through water. …

This is the advantage of living in Bamako where we have 220V instead of just 12V like in the village – I can have an air conditioner and the fans are more powerful. The disadvantage is that the air conditioners are not cheap and use a lot of electricity. For this reason I have one only in my office, but not in the rest of the house. My new home came with a swamp cooler but so far it has only cost me a lot of repairs.

SWIMMING: There’s a great swimming spot on the river about 10 miles out of town and we enjoy going out there, especially when our kids are home. Not far from there is a rocky area with swimming holes and waterfalls which stay quite cool even in hot season, and we love to explore there as well. During Spring Break we sat on a flat rock under a waterfall which was a fabulous experience. …

VACATION: This is the ultimate solution to Beating the Heat: leave town. We save up all our vacation time and head west to the coast of Senegal for the month of May. Interior Senegal is just as hot as Mali, but the coast is quite pleasant (besides the obvious benefit of being close to our children). And in just 15 days from now, that’s what we’ll be doing. …

My personal favorite is the ‘African Air-conditioner’ – similar to Swamp coolers that are based on the principle of evaporative heat loss, the same principle is at work when I cover myself with a wet sheet before going to sleep. Sometimes I have to get up during the night to make the sheet (cloth, pagne) wet again, but in general it helps a lot to cool down the body and sleep well. The same happens when you hang a wet towel around your neck during the day.

Top Ten Reasons to Love Hot Season in Mali:

10. Working late at the office takes on a whole new significance – Free AC.
9. The Malians finally agree with you when you say it is hot.
8. If you have problems deciding what shirt to wear, no problem. You’ll be wearing at least 3 today.
7. A chance to practice your Fahrenheit-Celsius conversion with big numbers like 41 or 46C (106F or 115F).
6. For those of us who have no hot water heaters, we can finally take a hot shower!
5. It’s a great time of the year to do swamp cooler maintenance.
4. Everyday household tasks become an extreme sport.
3. Clothes have that wonderful “fresh out of the dryer” feel when you take them out of the closet.
2. The oven is automatically “pre-heated”, and hey – most food is already pre-cooked.
1. A daily occasion to regale your facebook friends with complaints about how hot it is (just as they are expressing joy that it is finally getting up to 70F!)

from Tim: Top 10 reasons to love Hot Season in Mali (Facebook note)

*) The question is maybe whether hot season has ever left. This years ‘cold season’ was everything else than cold, even for Malian standards. Already in February temperatures often felt like hot season.

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You know you’ve been in Mali too long when…

Most of these have been posted on a Facebook group with this name. I edited some and added my own:

You know you’ve been in Mali too long when…

…you are personally offended by short skirts.

…you reuse Ziploc bags until they literally fall apart and after washing them you stick ’em to the wall to dry.

…you get excited when the thermometer reads only 40°C/104°F.

…you LOVE mangoes (in any forms- bread, dried, juice, whole…).

…you have multiple uses for your Air France eye mask.

…you no longer tremble at Bamako traffic.

…you run outside to see it rain.

…your clothes dry on the line in 10 min.

…you know somebody who has called Jorge Busch or ATT from Armee’s taxi.

…you’ve been offered at least 6 cows and 3 camels as dowry.

…you’ve been asked more than once to become a Malian man’s second or third wife.

…you had Malian women offering their husbands to you because they have pity on you for not being married.

…you find ants in your drink and think… huh, more protein.

…you never stop sweating.

…you have forgotten what real milk tastes like.

…your javel (chlorine) bottle is always at hand.

…you catch yourself saying… Yum- rice and sauce.

…you are cold because it’s only 20°C/68°F and its just too cold.

…you are getting excited when a lizard or gecko is crawling up your room wall because at least the flies and mosquitoes are getting eaten.

…you see a guy carrying a bench or a pile of chairs on his head, or on the back of a moto (moped), and you think nothing of it.

…you received a live chicken as gift from people and knew what to do with it.

…you accept to share a glass of tea the size of a shot with a shop owner.

…you think nothing of a man walking through a gas station selling this tea on a silver platter.

…you don’t notice when the traffic crawls in four lines where there are only two lanes and a bike lane.

…you are not surprised to see two adults and two children riding on one moto.

…you are not shocked when you pass five speed bumps in a row and the sotrama driver doesn’t even slow down.

…you are used to seeing a mud hut next to two large satellite dishes.

…you are content with sitting on one buttock only when riding on a sotrama because the apparentie (driver’s assistant) stuffed more than 20 people in the back of the minivan.

…you are always prepared to stop your car in the middle of nowhere because a herd of cows needs to cross the road.

…you know that it is unwise to offer a lift in you car to women with a calabash on their heads.

…you find it perfectly normal when two finely-dressed women are talking to each and one carries a bag of onions on her head.

…you don’t expect the bus to be air-conditioned because it says so on the outside.

…you know that a non-air-conditioned bus will be cooler than an air-conditioned bus because you can open the windows.

…you hold your paper cash notes from the corner.

…you know that you can’t return from a trip without giving everyone you know a cadeaux (present).

…you get excited when Azar’s got a new stock of cat food.

…you have seen someone with a leg of raw meat from some unfortunate creature strapped to the back of their moto.

…you travel without a toothbrush because you can always find a stick from a nem tree.

…you think of a religious sacrificial object when somebody uses the word “fetish.”

…you shudder away from kissing sounds.

…you realize how boring your dreams are when you run out of mefloquine (malaria prophylaxis).

…your feet are dirty and cracked and stay that way for the first three weeks back in your home country.

…you wonder where all these toubabs (white people) come from when you go home.

…you can’t help saying “toubabou, toubabou, toubabou” when a white person walks by.

…you order Coca light instead of Diet Coke when back home.

…you get back home and realize that you forgot that there is such a thing as a weather forecast.

…you have an instant shock reaction when somebody back home pays or gives something with his/her left hand.

…you have been back home for many years and you still say doni doni (slow slow, little little).

Feel free to suggest more if you know you’ve been in Mali too long because you …