The plumeria are in bloom around Garoua.
I’m in Garoua again for a meeting later this morning. It is amazing the change in weather just between here and my post.
At my post, hot season is already winding down. The market is still full of mangoes, and most days still feel hot and dry, but the rains that started as a teasing five minute sprinkle at the beginning of April have slowly become heavier and more frequent. They bring a brief respite in the form of cooler temperatures and fresher feeling air, but the heat is usually back a day later, often with a touch (or maybe an uncomfortable slap) of humidity. Still, either the temperatures are starting to trend down down, or I am getting more used to the heat. Or maybe visiting Garoua just makes my post seem cooler by comparison. It is pretty much the hottest place in Cameroon.
Two nights ago I was on the phone with someone who was in Ngaoundere, where is was pouring rain. The power was out at my house, and it was getting dark, so I was sitting on my porch where there was still a bit of light left, and watching the storm clouds gather in the sky, the winds already making the temperature drop more quickly than most evenings (to really pleasant, no cold). An hour or so later, the rain started coming down, leading the the biggest storm so far this season. I went to sleep to the sound of rain pounding on my tin roof.
The next morning it had stopped, all the better for traveling. They have been working on the road between my post and the main road, and it has gotten a lot better, but it is not paved yet. Still, I got to Garoua in my fastest time yet: just under three hours. I asked people here if they had had rain the night before, and to my surprise I was told that no, the rain did not make it up to Garoua.
All I can say is thank goodness for the air conditioning in the Garoua office. That, and the fast wifi.
During Pre-Service Training we all had interviews with our Program Managers about how we were getting on and what we wanted out of our posts. I told Amadou that what I really did not want was a lot of heat. Yes, there are places in Cameroon that are not terribly hot. There are posts in the North West where temperatures are in the 70s for much of the year. I have heard that there’s a town in the mountains of that region where it even gets down to the 40s.
To be fair, I did specify that it was humid heat in particular that I could not stand, but I wanted as little heat as possible.
Ever since I first got to the North, people have been telling me about hot season. I’ve heard that I would be dumping water on myself with my clothes still on to keep cool. I have heard that if I have a walled concession, I should just sleep outside at night, or alternatively dump water all over my bed and just hope to fall asleep before it finishes evaporating. I’ve been told not to worry, because once you get to 100 or 110 degrees, everything after that pretty much feels the same, anyway.
Now that it is March, hot season is officially here, and should continue (and probably get hotter) until the rains start in May. I have no way of knowing the current temperature at my post, except to look up the forecast for Garoua (high of 106 for today) and assume it is at least a little bit lower (my town does have the reputation of being on the cool side for the North – thanks, Amadou!). I have not gotten to the point of dumping water on myself while clothed, or sleeping on a wet mattress – so far. This is especially good, since the water pump closest to my house seems to have stopped working, so every ounce of water has to be hauled twice as far under the blazing sun.
But there is a bright spot in all this. For the last week or so I have been gazing longingly at small green fruit that seem to be dripping from the branches of the trees around here – and today I purchased and ate my first mangos of the season!
Now I just can’t wait to be able to plug in my fridge and actually drink some cold water.