Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mr. Golden Sun

There's a song that says, "...haven't seen the sun in three damn days..."  If you live in West Africa right now, it's been much longer than 3 days.  We are in the thick of Harmattan, the thickest in several years, and it is toying with our health and humor.  It takes hours to pick all the sand out of my eyes each morning; my nose is caked with crust; and the other morning I woke up in the middle of the night to find my lips stuck to the pillow case.  It's dry.  It's dry and dusty.  It's dry and dusty and we haven't seen the sun shine in days.

Harmattan is a phenomenon that blows through West Africa each year, some time between December and March.  Typically, we get it here in southern Ghana around early January and it lasts only a few weeks.  It is a trade wind that blows from the Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea, and it brings with it fine particles of sand and dust.  On the bright side, it also lowers humidity and can provide delightfully "cool" temperatures.  Those pleasures, however, are mostly offered to our friends in the north who have much more sand and dryness to contend with.

Each of the last two years, we've noticed a hazy sky and a bit of extra crust around the eyes in the morning, but mostly just enjoyed the cool evening breeze that blows it all in.  THIS year, however, slam!  We got it, but good.  I'm used to sunshine.  I'm used to the blue skies that Crayola crayons are named for.  This little Florida gal just doesn't understand how the sun can hide for this long.  Earlier today I emerged from my office just at the moment that the children were being called in from their recess.  Looking like the setting for a science fiction movie, the kids emerged from a yellow-ish haze, muddling through the thickness.

Hope is on the hidden horizon, along with softer lips and the dissipating yellow fog.  Until it arrives, I'll keep plenty of moisturizer on hand and refrain from trying to rub the smudges from my glasses.
The rising sun, as seen through an aperture in the early morning haze.

The view from our terrace.  Typically, the town below shows through the clear skies.  This is actually a light haze as compared to recent days.

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