• Ron Snell

Heat and Humidity Here? Well... yes... but....

Down here, we live outside!

A year ago I had a client who brought a friend with her to look at properties. The friend, my client said, was her brake against making a rash decision—a logical person to counteract an emotional person.

Both women were in their sixties. My client was in good shape – active and energetic – while her logical friend was rather less so.

As we looked at properties, it became clear that my client was up for anything, walking and scrambling and checking out every nook and cranny, while her friend was content to sit in the car with the A/C on and wait. “It’s just too hot here,” she said, and I can’t take this humidity.”

Here’s the thing that surprised me about that: The ladies were from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and it was August. Average temperatures in Ft. Lauderdale in August are about the same as average temperatures in our area in August. The humidity levels are pretty similar. Why, then, the issue with the heat?

You’ve probably already guessed the answer: In Ft. Lauderdale, she was never in the heat and humidity. She moved from air conditioned home to air conditioned car to air conditioned stores to air conditioned restaurants to air conditioned church to air conditioned whatever.

Here, we live “outside.” Even when we are inside, we are living outside. Central air conditioning is almost unheard of except in some of the worst designed homes where there wasn’t enough provision for air flow, or in spaces designed for vacationers who aren’t used to fresh air. People who live here longer term open all the windows and doors, set up spaces for drinks and meals on the patio or in the rancho, and plunge into the pool to refresh. If they have A/C, it’s for bedrooms at night and just for sleeping.

We also dress “cool.” Lightweight clothing and less of it makes a big difference. As a Norwegian once told me, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” Modern fabrics can almost feel like they aren’t there. Tank tops, shorts and flip flops are acceptable everywhere.

Someone once asked me how long it took to get used to the humidity (which is actually not as bad as many places in the southern or even Midwestern U.S. in the summer). It didn’t take me any time at all to get used to it because I have lived in several tropical areas of the world. When I asked my wife the question, she answered, “It’s not as much about adapting to the humidity, as it is about accepting sweat.” There is a lot of truth to that. Once we accept the fact that perspiration isn't a disease, and in fact that it is totally and natural healthy, we relax about it and enjoy the freedom of air movement.

Here is how you know your reaction to the climate has changed: You go back for a visit to the U.S. or Canada and you realize how confined everyone is. It’s as if in North America people make sorties out of their enclosed spaces to do specific things, and then duck back inside as quickly as possible. Here we dive for shade, perhaps, but not for confined spaces. We welcome breezes off the ocean or mountains. We love the fact that our breaths aren’t endlessly recycled in closed spaces. We hear the sounds of the birds and insects and frogs and monkeys and rain and thunder and surf clearly.

So my suggestion? When you encounter our climate, don’t take your first impressions too seriously. Give it a little time and you may find that it’s what your body has been wishing for your whole life.

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