Thursday, February 5, 2015


Back in July, when I was first preparing to come to Africa, I knew it would be hot.  I tried to mentally prepare myself for the intense heat I imagined I'd feel by going for runs during the hottest time of the day.  And let me assure you, it gets very, very hot here.  However, I felt quite unprepared for the past six weeks or so.  Beginning in December, the temperature cooled down quite a bit!  I found myself wanting to wear socks around the house and putting on jackets and (...I would never have guessed!) even scarves!  I even had my dad leave one of his sweatshirts behind for me.  It was quite a delightful surprise, this "Cool Season."  Allow me to summarize.  Here are a few ways to know that it's winter in Niger :)

1. You can wear your hair down all day.
2.  You need a scarf AND jacket just to keep from freezing on your early morning commute to school.
3.  Shaving becomes tricky when you can't keep your legs from getting goosebumps.
4.  You wish you had a pair of slippers to create a barrier between your feet and the cold tile floor.
5.  You can wear jewelry again because you don't sweat nearly as much, which typically creates a lovely green tarnish on your neck or wrists.
6.  Running in the afternoon is quite pleasant and if you run at night, you don't even break a sweat because it's so cold.
7.  You don't use your air conditioner for two whole months!
8.  Sleeping at night requires at least 2 blankets and a sheet.
9.  Getting out of bed in the morning becomes increasingly difficult, because your bed is, oh, so warm.
10.  There has hardly been a cloud in the sky for weeks.

In addition to the coolness, things have been a bit dusty.  When it hasn't rained for weeks in a sub-Saharan location like Niamey, well, let's just say it's easier to remember you live in a desert.  During the cool months, a hot, dry wind called Harmattan blows from the northeast, affecting much of West Africa.  If you look at the map below, you can see that Harmattan is heaviest in the lower half of Niger, right where Niamey is!  This wind is so strong, it can carry huge amounts of dust hundreds of kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean!  Here are a few ways to recognize Harmattan:

1.  Turning on the shower creates a small puddle of mud in the tub.
2.  Things look normal until you put your hand down and find a hand print where your palm has picked up the dust.
3.  Your once-white clothes are more off-white now.
4.  If you blow your nose, your boogers will be brown.
5.  The air has a certain dusty smell to it.  All the time.
6.  It's so dry without the rain, making everything extremely full of static electricity...from hair to skirts to paper!
7.  Even your bed sheets smell like dust.
8.  You can draw pictures on the toilet seat with your finger.
9.  Your hands and feet never feel really clean.
10.  There is so much dust in the air, you cannot distinguish the line between the river and the sky!

I am so grateful for the beautiful weather we have had!  And although it has begun to heat up again this week (triple digits!), I am clinging to cool season as long as possible!  No AC for me until I'm desperate :)  Bon chance!


  1. Drawing pictures on the toilet seat, eh! Loved this post, Hannah! :)