Monday, July 20, 2009

The heat is on!

Summer in Fes is a test. Can you keep working, keep your cool, and survive life in an oven for 90 days? That’s the big examination question. For me, the answer is “not if I don’t have to”. I can’t stand summers here. But here I am because work isn’t over yet.

Last year I opted not to work in July. This year, I didn’t think I could press my luck another year so I asked to teach half-time. And only in the mornings. This way, I can get up and dressed before the heat of the day settles upon us. Then I’m back at home during the blazing heat of the afternoon where my foot-thick walls and tiled floors help to keep the ground floor somewhat cool. During these afternoons I take a nap. After the sun goes down I come out again … as does the rest of Fes.

Of course there are few tourists here in the summer. It’s just too damn hot. But those who do come brave the heat of the day in their strappy tank tops and shorts and thereby add a point of interest to those who are lounging on the floors of their darkened shops waiting for the heat to dispel. Cheap entertainment. No electricity, cables or satellite dishes required.

I don’t want any visitors in my house right now because I don’t want to give up the ground floor. Upstairs is hot. Too hot for guests and too hot for me now. I lived upstairs for five days last week and that was the last time. I couldn’t wait for my guests to leave! The terrace is unbearable during the daylight hours but a source of welcome breezes by night. I have yet to sleep up there at night but I can tell the time is coming. And while the downstairs is pretty nice for now, the heat is inexorably building. I can practically hear it.

Everyone is talking about Ramadan and anticipating the challenge of not eating or drinking for what will be about 18 hours a day I guess. The month of Ramadan progresses forward 13 days every year. So it takes about 30 years to go through the entire calendar. I don’t actually know how old one is when they begin to observe Ramadan but for all those Moroccans under 40, this will be their first time to fast during the long, hot days of summer. And Ramadan during the summer will last for about 5 years. It’s going to be brutal as far as I can tell. People will simply have to stay indoors during the day if they hope to fast safely. This is going to be very interesting this year. It’s THE TOPIC on everyone’s mind these days as we get the full taste of summer heat.