For those of us in the northern half of Senegal, we are in a geographic area called the “Sahel.”
The Sahel is a zone “of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south, having a semi-arid climate. It stretches across the north of the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The Arabic word sāḥil (ساحل) literally means “shore, coast” as describing the appearance of the vegetation of the Sahel as a coastline which delimits the sand of the Sahara. ‘ (Thank you Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel)
I hadn’t really given much thought to what the weather or terrain would be like here in Senegal before arriving, I just knew it was going to be HOT. Upon arrival last June, the hot season was well underway. It was characterized by, you guessed it, being really hot all the time. So hot, it was hard to sleep at night and only cold showers provided momentary relief. Also, I was immediately struck by the amount of sand; I had never been to a country made of sand. At first, I wore flip-flops all the time, but I quickly converted to shoes that cover your foot because the sand here is treacherous – scraps of trash, animal droppings, bits of plastic and shards of glass are all apart of the mix. (I would hate to step on something, cut my foot and then have to deal with a gross infection which would inevitably take weeks to heal and cause months of limping.) I am always amazed to see men jogging and playing soccer in vacant sandy lots – plodding through the sand is tough work, I couldn’t imagine playing soccer in a sandbox! Granted, people generally only know life surrounded by sand, but for me, this tricky terrain serves as another example of how lucky we are to have lush green fields and hard ground.
Generally, this is the calendar of seasons in Senegal (for someone in the Thies Region – people down south have much hotter temps and much more rain that I do):
April – September: Hot season – really hot and no rain
September – October: Rainy season – infrequent but glorious thunderstorms deluge the ground and bring temporary relief from the heat
November – February: Cold Season – no rain, but temperatures drop dramatically once the sun goes down. It still gets pretty warm at the height of the day, but there is much relief in the mornings and evenings.
March – This year March was a bit of a toss up. Generally, I think March is considered the transition between the cold season and the hot season, but this year we are still enjoying cool evenings and mornings and it is practically mid-April. I think this is the exception and not the norm, but I’m relishing every cool evening we continue to experience.
So, on that note, I will close by saying I have been loving the cool evenings lately – I am not looking forward to returning to the days where in order to sleep you have your electric fan on right in front of your face under your mosquito net with you. I have also enjoyed the dramatically cooler the temperatures are for those living in a coastal town or city (from my experiences in Dakar, St. Louis and in the Petite Cote region). The breeze from the Atlantic Ocean does an incredible job of mitigating the heat.
Sorry for no post yesterday – had technically difficulties – and a photo of Marem bu ndaw will come soon!
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!