How to Beat the Heat


Greetingings dear readers, and please forgive me for leaving you hanging for so long. I’ve been baking in the hot Burkinabe sun for the past months and as I write to you I am waiting rather impatiently for the rains to come to Solenzo. They stubbornly refuse, of course, and I am left high and dry as always.

            The weather in Burkina is, as you may imagine, extreme. Temperatures during the dry season (September to March-May) can get up to 108 or 110 degrees in some areas in March and April, while kindly dropping down to the 60’s and 70’s during the wet season (May/June to October/September). When I first arrived in Burkina in January temperatures were moderate to cool, and the early hours of the morning had me snuggling into my sleeping bag for warmth. How far away all that seems now. The final months of May in Solenzo were scorching hot, a heat that can only be described as unfair.

I say unfair because when you wake up in the morning at 5:30 am and you are wrapped in sweaty sheets and your thighs are already sticking together you start to develop a sense of entitlement. Well why shouldn’t I be comfortable? Why shouldn’t I be able to walk from one end of my room to the other without breaking a sweat? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to wear one and only one outfit per day and skip the hourly change of tee shirt? Carbon footprint or no, those final weeks of May in Solenzo had me yearning for an air conditioner and a refrigerator, two things that draw far to much power for my puny solar panel to even dream of.

So how to beat the 108 degree heat in a place where you have no cold water, no ice, no refrigerator, and your solar panel can only handle running a fan for about an hour?

Technique one: The wet pagne

Dunk your pagne in water and wring it out (but not too much). Wrap yourself in said pagne and do nothing for the next three hours that can generate body hear (so, if you can stop yourself from breathing too hard, do so). When the pagne is covered in sweat rather than water, repeat the process.

Technique 2: Don’t leave your house

This technique is rather self-explanatory. The Burkinabe are early risers mostly because it’s nearly impossible to do anything between 10am and 4 pm. Suggestions for what to do during this period include sleep, watch copious amounts of TV, sleep again, peer out your window to make sure everyone else is sleeping, watch more TV. Just don’t move too much.

Technique 3: Bucket bathe

Although this may be the worst of the techniques yet it bares mentioning. Several times during the day, fill your bucket with the nice warm water from you water vat and douse yourself with it. Use plenty of soap, it’s been sweating in places where the sun don’t shine. The relief, however, only lasts for a few moments, because as soon as you stop bucket bathing you are inevitably covered in sweat again. Still, those few moments are so, so sweet.


Technique 4: Focus on your dog

No matter how bad of a time you are having, your dog has it worse. Nothing like sporting a fur coat in a desert climate with nothing but the surface area of your tongue to cool you off. Pour some water on the ground and then chase him around with a bucket and sprinkle him 

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This message is Khufu approved