Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Weird Weather in Lusaka

In endeavouring to average a ‘post a day’ this month (in the hopes that babbling on the blog will rub off on my academic writing and up the dissertation word count), I’m reduced to writing about the weather...

In my admittedly limited experience, the weather in Lusaka this time of year is pretty predictable.  Clear, blue skies, never a hint of rain, and an occasional spurt of wind to stir massive dust clouds off the bone dry streets.  So predictably dry is the city that in the early morning you’ll see people out watering down the street in front of their driveways or businesses to keep the dust down, an ultimately futile effort given that during the day it’s generally warm enough that the streets dry out quickly.

It’s always dark when I get up in the morning, but this morning it didn’t get much lighter as they hours crept on and I made tea, prepared lunch, ate breakfast, and packed my rucksack for the day.  Instead of its usual sparkling blue, the sky was a foreboding slate grey.  There was a brisk wind, which in East Africa would herald the imminent arrival of rain. 

If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that there was a storm brewing here in Zambia.  And indeed, the streets were emptier than normal as I made my way to work in the morning, and those people out and about were wrapped as though for an Arctic expedition.  The wind that cut through the city was indeed harsh.  My already-baffled body, which insists on rousing itself at four a.m., apparently unable to shake off the effects of jet lag, is all the more bemused by this weather given that it is accustomed to the balmy Bay Area summer that I’m missing back home. 

In the archives, I felt like a crew member on a ship that was battening down against the inclement weather, everyone remarking on the cold, which tempered slightly in the afternoon, when a hint of humidity crept into the air.  One of the staff looked somewhat askance at me when I ventured outside to eat my crumbling sandwich, secure at least in the knowledge that I’d be able to find my way back by following the crumbs if a winter fog set in. 

This evening I sat outside for a while, enjoying the cool air which, away from the streets is less oppressively dusty.  I’m working my way through two good books at the moment: Eliot Pattison’s novel Ashes of the Earth, and Robert Putnam’s endlessly thought-provoking Bowling Alone, about which I hope to write a post one of these days. 

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