Hot in Herre

5 Oct

I Wanna Take My Clothes Off

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Tarapoto is the heat.  It’s stifling.  The second thing you notice is the humidity.  It leaves you drenched in sweat at all times.  Office life (and Office Space) back in the States had me convinced that an air-conditioned cubicle farm is where dreams go to die, but after my time in Peru I’m sure I’ll be able to see a little value in filing “TPS reports” as long as it’s in a climate-controlled environment.

Mercifully, the office shuts down from 1-3pm, which is about the hottest part of the day.  This Tarapotan siesta is both a lunch break and sometimes the opportunity to return home for a shower.  (Other times, it’s the only chance to even have a semi-functional Internet connection in the office, since otherwise a few dozen people are sharing one not-that-broadband connection, hijacked from the router of another NGO based on the first-floor of our two-story building.)

Per, the average monthly highs in my town:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
91° 90° 89° 89° 89° 88° 88° 91° 90° 90° 91° 91°

Darn, too bad I wasn’t here during the “winter” — I bet July’s crisp, cool 88° would feel marvelous…

Agricultural-Themed Beauty Pageants are Ridiculous

Last Saturday night, I’d gone with a few other volunteers and local staff to the adjoining town of Morales.  The main square of the town was host to “Miss Morales 2011”, a beauty pageant featuring nine young women from the town vying for the crown.  The square was completely mobbed with people, and big screens had been set up to broadcast the proceedings.  Vendors with little portable stalls ringed the square, selling all manner of snacks, trinkets, and refreshments.  Cups of uvachado (a grape-based alcoholic drink) in hand, we were ready to enjoy the action.

It was mostly a traditional beauty contest, with the contestants spending a round parading about in swimwear, one in evening wear, and at the end, your standard cliche Q&A round.  Never mind the fact that a couple of the contestants looked like they enjoyed eating a lot of platanos maduros (sweet fried plantains)–which are soon to become the cause of my hyper-obesity, so I can’t blame them.  (A couple women from the office joked that even they could trade places with those girls on stage–but to be fair, there were also some attractive contestants.)

However, what made this event unique to me was a round designed to celebrate the region’s agricultural traditions.  To this end, each of the women dressed up as a different plant or tree of a popular local crop.  Hence you had a Miss Papaya, a Miss Plantain, a Miss Coconut, and the like.  Many of these costumes were huge and unwieldy, featuring huge flopping leaves or delicately-in-place branches.  A couple of the girls had a lot of difficulty just making one lap up and down the stage without tripping or breaking their costume.  It’s a travesty that I neglected to take a photo of the girl dressed up as a giant papaya tree…

Not So Hot: Cold Showers

Hot water is not something you typically find in homes here, and my new home is no exception.  While I had been previously staying in a local hotel which at least had a small reserve tank of hot water to grant me a precious few minutes of a warm shower, I just moved (at least temporarily) into the recently vacated room of a departed volunteer in a group house near my office.

Now, after everything I said above about the miserable heat and humidity, it stands to reason that a lack of hot water isn’t the worst thing.  With that said, I’m not sure anyone reacts well to an icy shock as they stumble bleary-eyed into the shower when they first wake up in the morning.  Or late at night when you’re looking forward to climbing into bed.

Given these conditions,  I think there are two reliable forecasts to be made concerning Tarapoto: (1) hot and humid during the day, and (2) significant shrinkage in the morning and/or night.


9 Responses to “Hot in Herre”

  1. mshofnos October 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Enjoy the humidity while you’re there. You’ll miss it when it’s gone. Or maybe you won’t. I’m really glad I’m posting something useful.

    • Jay October 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      Matthew, you have opened my eyes with your insightful commentary. Thank you.

  2. nj October 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    why shower in the morning? reserve your showers for the hottest part of the day, when the cool streams will prep your skin for more sweat-bathing in the afternoon.

  3. jh October 6, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    have a stove? if so, buy a big pot to heat up water/take hot baths at least. i did this when i was younger.

  4. jen October 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    so i read this on my reader at work, and i have to comment on your last point…

    pre-Meridian Jen: would’ve been appalled
    post-Meridian Jen: burst out laughing and made a point to get on my laptop to respond to this

    i want to see Miss Pineapple! photos! fotos! por favor!

    • Jay October 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Alas, I don’t have photos of Miss Pineapple… nor said shrinkage.

  5. AA October 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    Your going to have to go old school with your showers and take bucket baths with warm water. That’s the only way to avoid a rude awakening every morning!

  6. Jay October 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Ji/Ayesha, with a little electric stovetop in my kitchen, don’t think I’ll be doing any big-pot-heatings in prep for a bath. S’ok, I think NJ’s on to something — I’ve been doing the afternoon/night showers and have become accustomed to that.

  7. Some Moslem October 11, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Jay, it’s a travesty that there are NO PHOTOS ATTACHED TO THIS POST AT ALL. Get on that.

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