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It’s Not The Heat
It’s the humidity
That popular trope "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" has been made fun of from Saturday Night Live Miami Vice parodies to countless internet memes. Here in Mexico, on the beach, in August, it is more than a meme. It is a real, tangible experience - attested to by our sweaty faces, our damp clothes. It is an all-pervasive component of many (most?) conversations. "Hace mucho calor", "Que calor", "Estoy muy acalorado", "Ayer estuvo muy caluroso". It is the shared experience of the environment that we all feel the necessity to comment on. Of course it's hot, but I'm going to let you know that I know it's hot.
"¿Por qué estás aquí en agosto?" ("Why are you here in August"?) is a question that I get frequently here on the Pacific coast of Nayarit. Locals here expect to see a lot of Mexican tourists this time of year, but gringos don't tend to come to these places in the summer - especially not the late summer. There are a few reasons why I like the hot, muggy time of year to visit the beach. One is that I prefer to avoid the massive influx of tourists that occurs when it starts to get colder in the U.S. and Canada. It is quieter this time of year. Mas tranquillo. Y prefiero la tranquilidad. The birria restaurants are less crowded.
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I also like being in the ocean. I like to feel the energy of the waves, to be immersed in a force of nature that is so much larger than myself. And coming here in summer provides a built-in forcing function - going into the water becomes a necessity to escape that pervasive and relentless heat. It's also a handy way to wash the sweat off 😅.
Life slows down. Political divisions and culture wars give way completely to simple interactions about la clima. How hot it was today, how hot it's going to be tomorrow. The looming specter of septiembre, when it will be hotter still. We all have something to talk about, without disagreement. Que calor.1
I didn't want this particular article to turn into a post about climate change - I wanted to make an observation about our shared experiences, and how those shared experiences can bring us together rather than dividing us. But climate change is real and it will only exacerbate the unusually elevated heat (and the hurricanes, typhoons, draught, and wildfires) that people all over the world are experiencing and will continue to experience. And the people who will affected by it the most will be those without the means to escape it. This includes a very large percentage of the people in Mexico.