It’s Raining Savanna Sand

January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

If you wake up early enough (before 6:30am) and use a very leafy tree as your backdrop, you’ll see it. The same sand is blown across the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon (google the exact figure) to replace the one that washes into the ocean from their end. It’s the reason why the weather’s been cooler in the mornings and nights, and the same reason for the shorter day light. I was enjoying the change in temp until op3 hit. I had long forgotten about this dry air. A welder neighbor tried to caution me about the cold when he saw me shirtless this morning. “It’s going to get much colder soon,” he said. I chuckled and said thanks. They think this is cold? I’ve been in -40 Fahrenheit TWICE; once in Vermont and the other in Minnesota. I even slept in a cabin with no heat in a 0-degree winter night where my sheets and comforter felt like a frozen cocoon around me. After somewhere around -5 below, you stop feeling the cold. The only way you can tell it’s very cold is by the hairs exposed to the cold air and the cold air in your lungs. I actually enjoyed the cold. You can always dress for it. I miss it. If Ghana had a winter holiday area, I’d be there in a flash.

My skin, however, is suffering. It’s gone through this strange metamorphosis since I arrived. I came from winter cold, so that first hit from the sun didn’t help. My body also tends to be warmer than whatever the norm is- at least, that’s what I’ve been told. I’m good for cuddling in New England weather, but not in this Ghana heat, and especially not on this latex mattress. If you move down here, opt for a spring mattress. Latex retains heat. I’m glad we’ve found a way to produce something like this material in Ghana, but I wish it hadn’t been something that doesn’t help me sleep.

When I came, I couldn’t sleep. The five (now six) noisy villagers in my house didn’t know the meaning of silence. I’ve hated them ever since thanks to their ruining of my first month in Ghana. Then my whole body developed heat rash- everywhere! Well…almost everywhere. My skin was also reacting badly to the water we use for showering. I still don’t know where it comes from, but I’ve learned not to ask of its origin. After that subsided, I noticed my skin had gotten maybe 2 shades darker. Sorry, but that didn’t help my spirits much. I have nothing against dark skin. Hell, I fell for someone two shades from true black. I just hated that my milk chocolaty, silky skin was gone in less than 4 weeks. The shea butter my dadaba short-lived girlfriend gave me was actually making me darker. Using it was like basting my skin in those oils, then roasting myself in the hot sun. Bad move. That had to go. Then I graduated to cocoa butter; not one of the skin bleaching lotions from the Ivory Coast, btw. Very quickly, my skin began returning back to “normal,” but I’ve been lazy about moisturizing, and now my skin feels like sand paper.

If you aren’t here now, but imagine you’ll be coming down, or even if you’re here, note these next few words. Bring your regular bath accessories! Your skin needs regularity and will be very sensitive to any change in this heat. The same goes for soaps and toothpastes you were already using. Mosquito repellants are a must, unless you’re ok with a 104 temp and a super week-long migraine that keeps you immobilized in bed. Don’t walk around in the sun unless you really have to. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. Also, don’t be shy about using an umbrella. For a while there, I used one wherever I went. Some Legon girl once told me it’s uncouth for men to use umbrellas and why couldn’t I be like everyone else. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been in this kinda heat in a very long time, or that heat would radiate off my skin’s surface whenever I came out of the sun into the shade. Hers would’ve been analogous to my walking around in only a single, long-sleeved shirt in early spring in Minneapolis (which is very much the norm) with her newbie self in several layers of heavy coats. Would it have been fair for me to expect her to dress like we all did?

Today, mommy dearest arrives from JFK. Maybe I’ll get some Oil of Olay, Irish spring soap, and some of that crest whitening paste I’ve missed.

Update: she touched down in one piece. I didn’t get any Olay, but the Aveeno and Avon moisturizers were a welcome substitute..

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