Although I have lived in many different places in my life, they have all been in the northern hemisphere, and relatively speaking, colder climates. This is interesting, because I really hate the cold, and have a hard time staying warm when it is cold. Therefore, when this opportunity came up, I was all for it – Suriname, near the Equator, after 27 months in Ukraine and years in MN? Absolutely! I did not have to pack winter clothing – hell, I packed two shirts with long sleeves and don’t wear those.
The one thing I forgot about warm climates, like here in Suriname – you sweat. A lot. I mean, all the time, unless you work and live in air conditioning, which most of us do not. I knew it would be warm – but a consistent warm, unlike the highs and lows of the Midwest or other parts of the world. The humidity is higher, but that is offset by the fact that it does not get to 100 degrees Farenheit here. Right?
Yes and no. After two months, I am getting used to the fact that my antiperspirant is completely ineffective (the deodorant part of it still works). I know that by the time I ride my bike the five to seven minutes to work in the morning, I will be sweaty. By the time I walk any distance, I will be sweaty (and my clothing will show it). The sun is overhead pretty much all the time, so that means not a great deal of shade to escape it. I’ve found a product that is basically water with a small amount of fragrance, which I use on myself liberally, so when I DO sweat (because, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t), maybe I won’t smell like sweat – at least not right away.
People take two or three showers, and some change clothes twice a day. I personally don’t HAVE enough clothing with me to do that (I did the one suitcase thing, even though I could have brought two. The one included toiletries as well as clothing and shoes). People build houses with ventilation build into the walls. They use umbrellas when in the sun, sit near the windows in the bus when they can, lay in hammocks under shady trees, and have their own ways of dealing with the warmth. We PCVs usually end up drinking a lot of water. A LOT of water. I also found myself mopping my floor and doing other house cleaning the other day wearing as little as possible.
My apartment is fine in the morning, but in the afternoon, by the time I get home (and the air conditioner is turned off, to save energy), the sun is full on it, so it is pretty hot. I come home, immediately go to my room and turn on the A/C, change, and spend most of my time here. This afternoon I had to cut up a pineapple I purchased yesterday – the 15 minutes I spent doing that in the kitchen during the hottest part of the day led to me looking like I had just taken a shower.
Like I said, I sweat here. A lot. I know a lot of people hate that thought – especially the people from the U.S. who can only abide sweating if it is related to some form of physical exercise. But I don’t mind it – I mean, pretty much everybody here sweats – even the natives. It is cleansing, really…and I would so much rather sweat than try to layer up and add blankets to keep warm. Plenty of people don’t agree with me on that point – I guess I am unusual in that respect. But for me, it is so much easier to keep cool or to cool down than to warm up.
Guess that even though my skin is the palest of pales, I was meant to live in a warm climate. I just need to keep applying the sunscreen.