The Heat in Leon

There are two things that have dominated my life in my first few months in Nicaragua. One is the new technology I have inherited, my struggle to stay sane in the world of fragile laptops and weak wifi. The other is the heat in Leon. The all-encompassing, cloying, debilitating heat that surrounds us.

Cathedral

Leon cathedral, empty streets in the heat of the day

I arrived in January, and it was hot. Hot so you soon learned not to walk in the sun, hot so I wilted by mid-afternoon. Hot but just about manageable. But since then the heat has been building. In March and April the heat has been unbearable, as we build up to the rainy season. In April, the hottest month, the temperature crept from 36 degrees, to 37, 38 and several times up to 40 centigrade. In that temperature you just melt.

In Leon there are only two cooler hours of the day – from 5 am to 7am. If you want to go for a walk you have to get up at dawn. In the day, if you have to walk, you jump from shadow to shadow. If I walk to the shops with my wife, we walk in single file, hugging the edge of the buildings, searching for a sliver of shade. We walk, avoiding the sleeping dogs, the rubbish and the sudden potholes, and even the shade is hot.

Unlike most offices in Nicaragua, my office has no air-conditioning. We can’t afford it. In the mornings we manage, with a plethora of fans strategically positioned by each desk. By mid-afternoon our productivity plummets. I sit, with rivulets of sweat dripping down my back. My shirt clings to my skin. Not a great look as I try to exude authority.

The office has a shower. Sometimes I shower in the middle of the day, and just stand there afterwards, no towel, for two or three minutes till I am dry. Arriving home after work, the first thing I do is throw off my wringing clothes and shower, if there is water, in the lukewarm flow of Leon’s water system. At least here no-one needs a heated shower. You can shower four or five times a day – but a few minutes afterwards you are just…hot!

We bought a fan for our little apartment – it just pushes the hot air around. At the moment, living here is like living under a hair dryer. Roll on the rain, I say. I hope then it will get a little cooler. But in fact they say it just becomes wet and hot instead. Wet, hot, humid, like a Turkish bath. Will a change be as good as a rest? But Nicaragua needs the rain, after the last two very dry years. Last week we had a few storms, with the inevitable power cuts they bring. The mood is changing in the streets. Are people now carrying parasols or are they carrying umbrellas?

The photos below show how I am coping with the climate…

January

February

February

March

March

April

April

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9 comments

  1. southernafricatravelsblog · May 8, 2016

    Looks amazing

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  2. Jean Webber · May 8, 2016

    Are the rest of the staff down to their bikinis too? And how is Kath coping at home with the shopping and cooking etc? J x

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  3. Ives · May 8, 2016

    I feel you, brother! I live in Leon too and have been coping with the heat, wifi issues and a myriad other small but very irritating daily life details for almost four years. Lucky for me, though, I’m retired and not working, so whenever I can I escape to the beach, where you can usually find a breeze to cool you down, not to mention a dip in the ocean.

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  4. posgood · May 8, 2016

    Very nice in the south-east of England at the moment, Steve. You’ll be glad to cool down.

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  5. deb · May 9, 2016

    Haha! So when IS it cooler -which month is the best for a shade seeker?!

    Like

  6. Mary Durran · May 9, 2016

    Don’t know how you cope with the heat! Last time I worked in such a hot climate was in Kindu, Congo, where it often went up to 40C in the day. I think you need to get AC for the apartment, even if you use it sparingly.

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  7. Elfi Littmann-Kaba · May 14, 2016

    I do not have AC in my house, but there are a few things you can improve, I think:
    1) Do you have any window shutters? I keep everything closed during the day and open the shutters as soon as it is cooler to let the air flow through the house. I do not even use any fan in my bedroom, there are 2 opposite windows.
    2) Another very important thing is to choose your house or apartment in a barrio with man y trees, not too much in the center. The house I first lived – a very nice colonial-style house with a huge sala and very high ceiling – was located at the corner of the main street (1 block South of Hotel Europa) – VERY noisy, VERY dusty (when you have the wind blowing from the sugar cane fields in the East which brings a lot of polvo in) and – VERY hot!
    Now I live in Guadelupe, in a calm barrio with many trees. I have 1 front garden with trees, my neighbor has many trees, and I have 2 patios with a tree and where I plant as much as I can. This makes a very big difference!
    3) I moved my office from a room at the front – with a nice view of the front garden, but with the sun shining on the window shutters all day long – to a room behind the carport, with a small inside window and holes in the wall, but no direct sun anymore. I only use 1 fan in the hottest hours in the middle of the day.
    4) Another problem are the tin roofs – especially when the ceiling is low. It may be very hot under these roofs. So carefully select your house with respect to these points, you can really have it much cooler! I would even consider to move elsewhere, if it is not possible to modify your situation to suffer less!
    Hope to have given you some hints… and: stay cool!

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    • stevenicaragua · May 14, 2016

      Thank you very much Elfi for such a good and serious advice. My office is in Guadalupe and it does seem like a nice relaxed barrio. But our office is hot hot hot! Its good of course that you and your neighbours have planted the trees and plants.

      Like

  8. stevenicaragua · August 15, 2016

    Elfi it was good meeting you for lunch on Saturday. Thanks again for the advice. trying to stay cool. x

    Like

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