Game of Thrones fans, Canadians, and Russians can understand the weight of knowing that the dark and cold of winter is coming can be a heavy load to carry. But here in Mali, it couldn’t be more opposite. Global warming, desertification, and pollution are contributing to record high hot seasons here in Mali year over year. This year, Malians are expecting the hot season average to be 51 degrees. That is hot.
The temperatures are already rising day by day with the hottest part of the day lasting just a little bit longer as the calendar flies by; and it will all culminate in a two month period during April and May that will be breathtakingly stifling. I know a lot of the people who read this are in two main categories: people who get it because they live here with me and they know how hot and hard it can be and people who are still living the realities of winter with -20 degree temperatures and storm warnings for +30cm of snow.
But just like winter, the hot season changes life here and marks one of the few season changes that you can have in Mali. People get hot, and tired, the power goes out a lot, water is shut off sometimes, food is expensive, people become dehydrated easily and so as it goes people get more inpatient and cranky. There is more traffic jams, and road side disagreements, and everyone I mean everyone is looking for the next patch of shade to shield themselves from the glaring intensity of the sun.
There is a positive side to the hot season though. The hot season means more pool parties, and low key adventures where people laze around and connect with one another (because it is too hot to go anywhere), and days where sometimes you avoid going outside for long periods opting for movies inside where there are fans instead of braving the heat.
I am making my preparations for the hot season now; getting big buckets to act as my water reservoir, testing my solar charged lamps, and strategizing for the nights without power (I’m thinking of just sleeping in a pool :P) but part of me is glad to experience the intensity that gives me a lot of respect for the resilience and perseverance of people here.
Malians have created a way of life here, they have ways to cope and make it through the rough parts of the years and celebrate the good times of the year because they know that these moments are fleeting. Their appreciation for trusting the land and the environment to provide for them is a beautiful value. So, while I know that I am going to lose sight of this appreciation for the culture when I haven’t slept and am sweating from literally every pore, I am glad that I get a chance to engage and interact with these beautiful human beings.