Sunday, May 20, 2007

Escaping the Desert Heat

I had to write a descriptive essay for a class, so I wrote about the trecherous heat of Kuwait. Just in case you were wondering what the weather is like here.... well, here it goes:

Escaping the Desert Heat
By Marcia

Kuwait’s summer heat is calamitous. The average temperature is 45 degrees Celsius, but a reading of 54 degrees Celsius is common. The moment one steps outside, the sun’s rays are attacking at full force.

It is difficult to breath. The air is dry, and causes your throat to tighten. The sun is overly coruscating, blinding the eyes. The sun instantaneously depletes your energy, making it difficult to get the motivation to do anything. It’s smart to wear long sleeves to protect the skin, but that only instigates the personal sauna made by your own sweat. Moisture is begging for release, opening every pore in the body. Beads of water escape, trickling down the hair line and small of the back. The level of discomfort has risen; along with being hot, you are now sticky too. Clothing clings to the body. There’d be more room for air to circulate if you’d have painted your wardrobe on that morning.

Across the way, a gentle breeze moves the branches of a palm tree. They sway back and forth as if dancing the hula. Grateful, you anticipate the possibility of cooling down just a little. You quickly regret the invitation to tango with the breeze, as it feels like 17 hair dryers have been set on you. This must be what it feels like to walk through fire.

The next possibility of relief: a glass of iced water. The content of the glass is screaming to get out. As condensation collects outside the sacred H2O holder, it scampers down your arm, and a trail is left where the salty sweat previously resided. In one gulp it’s gone… if only it were a bigger glass. Determined to relieve the sensation of having eaten a package of cotton balls, as mucus collects at the back of the throat, you pour another. The excitement of the cold beverage, or perhaps the quickly depleting hydration, causes some of the content to accidentally spill onto the concrete. It evaporates quicker than sadiki in a dry country. For a moment the water has helped, but only long enough for your pores to release the recently consumed fluids.

As defeat sets in, you realize that you cannot win this battle with the heat, and you seek shelter indoors. Luckily you are just outside your flat… ahh, sweet air conditioning. The only thing that will hurry this cooling process along is a cold shower. Still sweating, the clothing is pealed off. One by one it falls to the floor, much like a wilting flower loosing its petals. As you step into the running water, you notice that you resemble a cinnamon-sugar cookie thanks to the powdery sand and sweat mixture. The foreseen cool down is a let down, as the “cold” water has a burning effect on the skin. Adjusting the water temperature, you learn that the coldest water available is already pouring out of the spout. The water tank is located outside and has had all day to boil its water. The disappointing shower is swiftly finished. You dry off and redress in fresh clothing. Soaking in the air conditioning, you’re finally able to gain relief from the treacherous heat. The current cup of water is much more enjoyable than the last two. With this one, it is not necessary to battle with the sun to consume it before it dissipates.

After relaxing and recouping from the earlier day’s adventure of stepping outside, hunger pains shoot through the stomach. Rounding up what’s left of your energy, and craving the Naif Chicken across the street you are ready to venture out again. The sun has set, so Kuwait’s earth must have cooled down. The elevator ride down twelve flights is stuffy and the fan running inside doesn’t do its only job. The doors open, and you make it across the air conditioned lobby. As you step outside, the heat again takes your breath away. Ten paces are taken before the process starts again. Remembering that the restaurant delivers, you quickly retreat to your frigid oasis. As you open the door, you burn your hand on the sun baked handle- just another reminder that Kuwait’s summer keeps everything blistering hot, even after nightfall. The 20 minute chicken delay is more than worth it!