Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Weather

Finally, a picture of Cuenca. Rio Tomebamba
It's amazing how much of my life is still determined by the weather. Being from the northeast, I've grown up with some crazy storms and a climate that would make even the happiest person start feeling helpless. There's something about the climate in Boston that just makes people much more sensitive to weather changes and appreciative of good days. At the same time, it has created a sort of "state-wide pass time" for those of us from the area. Every day we love to discuss the weather and how it's either great or terrible.

Now down in Cuenca, far away from Beantown, I'm still finding weather to be a huge part of my life. The saying in Quito is that you experience four seasons in one day, and the same could be said for Cuenca. In the mornings it's a bit colder and by the afternoon has warmed up to somewhere in the 70s, Fahrenheit. Later on as the sun starts to set, it gets chillier, and by nighttime you're back to where you started in the morning. On top of all of that, it pretty much rains every day at different times.

Sometimes it will rain hard in the morning or afternoon, but only for a half hour. Other days, it will rain gently towards the end of the day and throughout most of the night. Basically, if the day starts out perfect with no clouds, you can be assured that by 4 p.m. it will be overcast and rain will be on the way.

The mentality of a person from New England is that you have to appreciate the weather as it comes, because it can change without much warning. I'll never forget when I was in elementary school the blizzard in April. In the winter we comment on how cold it is and the miserable conditions. February will always have an image in my mind as the worse, most disgusting month of the year, no matter where I live. If I move to the South Pacific I'll still imagine February as slushy snow and grey overcast sky for 28 days.

In the summer it's too hot and humid, and every day brings the surprise of, "I can't believe how humid it is today," from one or two people. But these extremes truly make us appreciate our short-lived spring and beautiful falls. I'm missing the foliage right now, though I never cared much for it until a couple of years ago. To me it always represented the oncoming of school and colder weather.

The spring and fall at UMass were some truly beautiful months. Everyone was outdoors and doing something, anything, to shake off the cobwebbs of winter and to enjoy the weather one last time. There was a kind of energy and happiness that I've never seen anywhere else as there was on that campus in those warming up and cooling down months. Here, however, I see the students just hang out outside the classrooms all day, seemingly unaware of how "pleasant" this weather is.

Everyone complains that it's cold here, but to me it's just fine. I almost feel bad for the people here, and the people in any location where there isn't a definite change in season. It's terrible having to wait months to be able to do things outside again, but once it comes you are all the more grateful for it.

It's funny that I'm down in South America and I'm still thinking of the weather up in Boston. And I thought I was going to be living in permanent summer, but high up in the Andes, it's actually quite different. I have all of these pairs of shorts that I'll never wear. Oh well, I can still get a sun burn just by standing outside for a few minutes.

UPDATED: 5:08 Local Time...It is pouring again, for the third time today.

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