It’s that time of year when the number one topic of conversation is the weather. February and early March are the hottest months. In the early afternoon the outside temperature is in the upper nineties. A blazing sun, high humidity and warm ocean salt-spray breeze that corrodes metal and leaves a sticky film on everything makes it worse.
There aren’t a lot of options to escape the heat. Air conditioning in private dwellings is non-existent in Chiclayo. I am not aware of any single family homes, apartment or condo complexes that have air conditioning. I don’t know why that is. I know why we don’t have air conditioning in our home, but in the interest of preserving domestic tranquility I will say no more.
There are some tactics Chiclayanos employ to find a brief respite from the heat. They go to one of the nearby beach towns where the temperature is usually 5 to 10 degrees cooler and the breeze, though not cool is stronger. But at some point you need to get on a crowded combi to return to Chiclayo, and by the time you arrive your sweaty clothing is sticking to you as you exit the vehicle. And you have sand in your shoes.
The Real Plaza shopping mall is a popular temporary escape. Many of the stores have air conditioning. Cineplanet has air conditioning. We’ve seen three movies this week. The line at Cineplanet often has more than 100 people waiting to buy tickets. To avoid the line we go early when the box office opens and buy tickets for a later time that evening. The mall has six ice cream stands. Lines are usually 15 to 20 people long. These conditions will change in mid march when school opens and the weather begins to cool.
There is a large public swimming pool in central Chiclayo that is to me strangely underutilized. There are two water theme parks in the outskirts of the city that are inexpensive and very popular.
In the late afternoon people move chairs from their homes to the sidewalk. Entire families can be seen fanning themselves and drinking their favorite beverage. They block the sidewalk, forcing people to walk in the street but no one minds.
But whatever option you choose, there comes a time when you have to go to bed. I don't like cold showers but I take one before going to bed. It doesn’t help. I still go to bed with that clammy feeling on my upper body and back of the neck. Several times each night I wake up; flip my damp pillow, stand by a window until I cool down a bit and then go back to bed. I wake up with the same clammy feeling, and dread what that rising orange hazy sun portends.
There’s really only one way to beat Chiclayo’s heat. Leave town. You can get on a bus in Chiclayo and 6 hours later be in a village high in the Andes Mountains where the air is cool and crisp with a daytime high of 72 and a low of 50 at night. There are decent hotels starting at $20/per night and restaurants are not expensive. That’s what we’re going to do. I am so looking forward to sleeping with a blanket and maybe shivering a bit.