Back in February I wrote a post—What Cold Means to Me Now—after I developed chilblains during the Moroccan winter. Today I am experiencing the polar-opposite (ha ha ha) of being cold: I am HOT!! Over the last two weeks the daily high temperature in our town has hovered between 95-100 degrees daily, with nighttime lows only falling to the mid-70s. The most reasonable time of day temperature-wise is between 6:00-8:00AM. This brief morning period is actually quite lovely, and I am now trying to wake up at 6:00 at least a few times a week to go biking for an hour or so. Feeling a (somewhat) cool breeze as I bike is such a delight given the demanding heat that arrives by mid-morning and lasts until close to midnight. Another benefit of being out at this early hour is how social a time it is in our community. It is currently wheat harvesting season here, so there are lots of people in the fields with whom I exchange pleasantries. Also, school starts at 8am, so I get to interact with lots of kids who are walking to school.
By 11:00AM, the sun and heat are quite physically taxing, so staying inside becomes a priority. While I sometimes need to make trips outside during the middle of the day to run errands or teach a class, I am not inclined to meander purposelessly through town between 11:00AM and 6:00PM, when the heat finally, shwiya b shwiya, starts to abate. Most local people also seem to avoid being outside during the day unless it is necessary for work. And between 2:00PM and 5:00PM most shops and services are closed so that people have a somewhat ‘official’ reprieve from being active in the heat.
After 6:00PM, the town again wakes up, and people resume their out-and-about activities. I have started to schedule most of my Peace Corps activities for after 6:00PM, as students clearly prefer this time of day to meeting when it is hot. And after our evening work activities end, Noa, Thomas and I enjoy taking evening walk-a-bouts or bike rides as a way to see our neighbors and other community members.
When all is said and done for the day, preparing to fall sleep has developed into a carefully choreographed performance. My bedtime routine starts at around 10:30PM by taking a cool shower. I find rinsing off the dust and heat each evening allows me to ‘let go’ of any challenges I have experienced during the day. After showering I do not dry myself off with a towel, but instead put on a lightweight nightgown which becomes damp from the shower water and helps keep me cool—hooray! However, in the arid climate my nightgown dries quickly, so just before going to bed at around 11:30PM or midnight I splash water all over the nightgown and then train a fan directly on where I sleep. I have very good success with this routine and sleep soundly in my damp clothes.
So there are my reflections on what it is to be hot in Morocco. It’s actually not too difficult if one takes precautions to avoid becoming overheated. But we’ll see what happens as summer approaches and the temperatures continue to rise. In’shallah, my current tactics will continue to work. In’shallah.