Real Fear: Heat

The other day it was over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s only spring. On that day the water worked intermittently during the hottest hours of the day, but I still managed 3 showers. The power went out several times during the night. I dread the day when the water doesn’t work all day and it’s hot (I refuse to imagine a long power outage)—so far I’ve only survived those variables independently, but the inevitability that I will encounter both together one day is nerve-wracking.

My little house, as I like to affectionately call it, does not have AC. All I’ve got is a floor fan, which I move around the room with me like it’s my shadow.

My community gets a 5 o’clock shadow—as in, anywhere I want to walk before 5 p.m. has no shade, just beating sunrays. The school doesn’t have AC. They have ceiling fans, but not all the fans work and even when they do work it’s still bloody hot for an old New Englander like me.

The health post is an oasis. There is one room in the health post that has AC. I foresee spending many summer hours in that one somewhat dark room where the walls are lined with baby alimentation posters, medical record folders (paper ones), and whatever medications we have.

Don’t worry! There is a comical side to this whole heat debacle. While I’m dripping sweat like a glass of ice water on a summer’s day, my Paraguay comrades are sitting drinking terere. There’s not a drop of sweat on their faces and their clothes are still perfectly pristine. “Haku” they say when they see me, which means “hot” in Guaraní. I always respond “haku” enthusiastically and comment how I miss the snow. Reflecting, I’m starting to think they say it not because they think it’s particularly hot but because I look like I’m boiling. It’s a good indirect way to say, “You look terrible, are you okay?”

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