Homicidal Weather

When people talk about weather in Lusaka they usually brag about how beautiful it is.  But then, they add, there’s October.  Ever since we moved here in January everyone warned me about how miserably hot October would be. So, when October came and it warmed up only to the 80s or so, I thought, this is no big deal.  For about a week it even went down to the 70s as the high and in the 50s as the low — I had to dig out a sweatshirt.

Is this normal I asked?  Yes, said Danny the gardener, but Danny says yes to everything.  Yes, it’s normal to have power go out this long.  Yes, it’s normal to have the pool turn green like that.  Yes, it’s normal to have to repair the water pump once a week.  Uh-huh.

Others said we were lucky, that two summers ago the month of October was unbearable, that people looked for excuses to flee the country (a conference on world peace?  I’m there!).  I should have known better than to taunt the gods when last week I smugly said, looks like October skipped us this year, huh?

The first hint of a “regular” Zambian October occurred during our trip last week to South Luangwa (more on that soon!).  The days were miserable — 108-111 degrees.  For the first time I could see why people died in heat waves.  From 11.30 am to about 4 pm not even fans helped.  (No air conditioning anywhere.) We laid in our bed reading and tried not to move.  The fan was like an open oven blowing super-heated air onto you.  Thom took to taking showers every hour; I just poured bottles of water over me (right onto our mattress and sheets; they dried within an hour).  On our departure day we tried to change our flight to a morning instead of mid-day flight but the change fee was too high. This time we suffered in the airport lounge, watching Al Jazeera report on Gaddafi’s death.

When we arrived late afternoon in Lusaka it was about 85 degrees — positively balmy!  Instantly my mood improved.  I turned to Thom and said, it’s amazing how much less cranky you are when I’m not hot.  Wisely, he just nodded.

Well, we must have brought the heat back with us from South Luangwa because this week it’s been getting up to about 100 degrees every day.  The low is only about 70!  (Remember, this is a block house, no insulation, when it’s hot outside it’s hotter inside; when it’s cold outside it’s colder inside!)  Those who know me know I like to sleep cold (i.e., window open in the winter and snuggled under a big heavy quilt) and that I’m a runner (I run at least a mile a day, every day).  Right now it’s already hot at 8 am (like 80 degrees) so at this point it’s all I can do to eke out a mere mile (“I can do anything for 15 minutes, I can do anything for 15 minutes”).  The days of 5k or more runs are distant memories.

Right now it’s 8 pm and my kitchen is 93 degrees.  A cooked dinner?  Hah!  Looks like that’ll have to wait until November, when it’s supposed to cool down.  The weather forecast is basically the same between now and November 5 — high ~99 degrees, low ~70 degrees.  (See this.)

I seemed to recall that hot weather made people crabby and uncharitable; that it wasn’t just me who wanted to ram cars that ran stop signs or aim for pedestrians when they jaywalked when I was hot.  Sure enough, a quick Google search revealed boatloads of studies associating hot weather with violent behavior, mental distress and increased crime.  Seems we lose our minds when it’s too hot.

This article says it all: The truth is that warm weather makes us irritable, violent and depressed.

Here are some other factoids about what hot weather does to people:

Serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia and manic depression
are said to worsen with changes in the weather, and suicide rates are
affected too. Hot weather is also linked with higher levels of street
violence and attacks, as well as rioting and unrest. The hot dry Fohn
and Scirocco winds are said to damage the health - in Germany the
accident, crime and suicide rates rise during the Fohn, whilst the
Scirocco is said to cause madness.

In heatwaves, where the temperature is significantly higher than
expected for the time of year, people tend to behave more
irrationally. New York City sees regular summer crime waves, which are
believed to be as a result of the hot weather.

About Kimm X Jayne

Gravatar Photograph from the exceptionally talented Ben Heine. http://www.flickr.com/photos/benheine/3794765860/
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9 Responses to Homicidal Weather

  1. well girl, our entire summer was like that, only you must add mosquitos to the mix – the size of 747s. No one was outside for two months. So, to sum it up, In June it was sorta nice – we went from snow and rain in May to heatwave in July – Sept. October has been beautiful. come home.

    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      yeah, but you have air con!!!! I know, i’ve seen it. And the mosquitoes here give you diseases! (not like our purified MI ones) I do want to come home!! but not before you and Annie and Joedy come visit….xoxo

  2. Kimm X Jayne says:

    p.s. did the MI weather make you want to injure small children?

  3. Joanne Hutchinson says:

    You just wrote this to make me feel better! It is really cold here! It has rained the last 4 out of 5 days. That bitter, dull gray cold rain that is depressing. Our tenant in our basement apartment informed us last Thursday that sewage was coming up in the shower stall. We thought it was from all of the rain. We are supposed to disconnect our eaves from the sewer system as our old pipes here in Toronto cannot handle all that water.
    Well we had” Rooterman “here today and he snaked out the pipes going to the main sewer lines and guess what? He found condoms & tampons plugging the pipes.
    We originally had only one guy, Bill, really nice guy, living down there but his equally nice girlfriend moved in July 1st this year. He said the toilet had plugged 2-3 times this summer but they were always able to plunge it. So $ 209.05 later we will be giving them the bill. I feel bad as, like I said they are a really nice couple, but shouldn’t people know better this day & age.
    Anyway, sorry to go off on a tangent. I hope you feel cooler reading this and not sick to your stomach.
    I really did intend to email to say I hope it cools down for you and too bad you can’t type in the pool.

  4. Amy Bowden says:

    Presently, I’m chilly and craving a hot chocolate. Whip cream with sprinkles.

  5. Maureen Witte says:

    Sounds like our Santa Ana conditions. Had a doozy about 2 weeks ago. Lasted about 5 days. Thank God it’s over for now.

    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      ohhhh, I remember those. Up to about age 8 or 9 I was terribly allergic to the Santa Anas. Eyes would swell completely shut and had to get allergy shots. I think we figured out it was due to olive trees? Didn’t you have an olive tree at the El Toro house right in the front. I would sneeze every time we walked by. Seem to have outgrown all of that thankfully.

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