“Not Enough Humidity” Said No One Ever

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“Not Enough Humidity” Said No One Ever

Mexico is hot.  Really hot.  Hot and sticky and humid (especially in our part of the country which averages one of the highest humidity rates in the entire world… for example, the average humidity in a rainforest is between 77 and 88%… our humidity today is a balmy 79%).  Hot and sticky and humid and it sucks the energy right out of your body.  Here you live your life around where you can be in air conditioning.  I’m sure this is not shocking news.  But come live here for a few months and you will quickly learn the limits of your own personal comfort and realize that air conditioning is one of the most important inventions OF ALL TIME.  You will drive around in your car (if you are one of the lucky ones to have a vehicle) with the AC on its coldest setting, and most likely that will run FULL BLAST your entire drive.  You will aim  every AC vent so that the wonderfully cool air will be hitting as much of YOUR body as you can, ignoring the weak cries of any boiling passengers in your vehicle because they will soon pass out from the sweltering heat anyway – so you won’t have to listen to their complaints for long.

Living in hot and humid weather also causes problems outside of simple constant battles of being comfortable.  If you are prone to any ear problems (like our oldest hija), then your problems will become bigger.  Ear aches (“swimmer’s ear”) are really rampant here due to the weather and the quality of the water in which we take our showers.  Don’t even THINK about filling up the kiddy pool in the yard.  I have never had an ear ache, myself, but if the crying exhibited by our daughter during her latest bout with an ear infection is any indication, they are really, really painful.  And guess what?  The common ear drops used to combat said infections (aptly named “Swimmer’s Ear” available in those little white bottles almost in every store in the U.S.) cannot be found here.  Someone please explain that to me.  So if anyone back in the U.S. wants to send me a shipment of these little bottles – that would be great.  In the meantime we have to make our own preventative ear drop solution (the recipe given to us by the ear, nose and throat doctor, called an “otorrinolaringólogo” – good luck pronouncing that).

Another fun side effect of hot and humid weather:  mold.  You know how your bratty kids never pick up their wet towels off of the bathroom floor, no matter how many times you remind them?  Mold.  Using the closet space in your bathroom to store extra sheets and blankets?  Mold.  Don’t dry off your toothbrush when done?  Yep, mold.  Are you like me and only clean out your coffee maker about once a year?  Yeah, enjoy your moldy coffee (true story).

(hee, hee – don’t let any of the above stop anyone from coming to visit us.  I promise that our AC works really well both in our house and our cars, we’ve paid the electric bill, will wash the sheets and blankets and will not serve you moldy coffee).

So before you even think of moving to a hot and sticky environment yourself, know that it means making changes to your financial lifestyle in order to afford the AC, figuring out how to find an otorrinolaringólogo and being on constant guard for locating and eradicating anything suspiciously green-colored and fuzzy.  You will quickly make note of which public establishments have the best AC, and regardless of the quality of food or services they provide – those are the places you will frequent.

Oh, and I would HIGHLY advise against getting into a taxi here with its windows DOWN.  That means they don’t have the AC on… and no offense to the hard working taxi drivers who mostly exist to run me off the road – I can only imagine how much the inside of that car must stink.

High humidity levels also attract lots and lots of mosquitoes.  I haven’t done any research on the subject but I would bet you a good amount of money that our area probably has the highest mosquito population in the world, so thank you Mexico for this daily treat.  I’ve gotten bombarded by those little bastards just in the four second sprint it takes me to get from the front door of our casa into my car – at times so bad I feel like I’m being attacked and almost carried off by those creepy flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

And ladies, good luck on having soft, sleek hair here.  You know the traditional image of the bonita Mexican woman with her blue-black hair slicked back into a gorgeous shiny bun, decorated with flowers and colorful adornments?  Well, let me tell you:  they do that because they HAVE to, not because they like the look.  Don’t get me wrong it looks great – and is really low maintenance – but I’d be interested to see just how much money is spent on gels and oils to get such thick frizzy hair slicked back onto these sleek beautiful buns.  I know hair gel is the second item on our list of financial NECESSITIES to live here, right behind the money needed for electric bills.

There aren’t many benefits to living in an area with high humidity, except maybe clear skin (the constant sweating cleans out the pores and cleanses the body of toxins).

Example of beautiful traditional Mexican woman, hair back in sleek bun

Example of beautiful traditional Mexican woman, hair back in sleek bun

Example of traditional American woman (sadly, me) at salon trying to calm frizzy hair

As lifestyles go, the Mexican culture is definitely driven by its sultry weather – from the way women style their hair to the clothes they wear (lots of white, which I personally hate because black is so much more slimming and flattering), to their socializing (folks around here seem to be much more active as evening falls into dark – so much cooler).  Umbrellas are used to shade the sun more than to block the rain and you need various chemicals, sprays and lotions to go about your daily life to ward against harm (sunscreen, bug spray, homemade ear drops).  Not many bakers here as it’s too hot to use an oven for long (I learned this after inquiring why the baking section at the grocery store only consists of about two shelves).  Unfortunately in the homes it’s necessary keep the blinds and curtains closed to try and limit the sun and heat in the house, which means limiting the pretty views.  And for good reason, you CANNOT find a single unscented product here – be it soap or detergent or lotion (I’ll let you think about that one…)

It’s one perspective to visit a tropical and balmy beach for vacation for a few days – enjoying the blazing sunshine and steamy breezes.  But to live in such weather, day after day, week after week – it changes you.  It changes your outlook on life; it changes your financial attitude; it dictates where you go, what you do and when you do it.  And worst of all it changes your hair.

So the next time you see me, please don’t judge me too harshly.  I’ll be the one huddled around the AC unit, covered in mosquito bites and dressed all in white, hogging the cool air, my frizzy hair pulled hastily back in a messy bun; my face will be covered in white sunscreen and I’ll stink of bug-spray.  I probably won’t hear you much because of the ear plugs; and if my teeth have a slight greenish tint, maybe cut me a little slack.

But hey (and here’s my glass-is-half-full-of-tequila moment): I guess while the rest of me wilts, frizzes and stinks, at least I’ll be free of contamination and have glowing skin.

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7 responses »

  1. That’s why I moved to Phoenix, with the humidity in Illinois I couldn’t do a thing with my hair either. Ahem! Love the blog J, so exciting to receive it.

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  2. If you had stayed in Florida the humidity would have been second nature, but you would not have met Z. Tolerate the humidity and love your family! I tried sending swimmer’s ear drops, but no one would ship to Mexico. Sorry la nieta! Nice pic 🙂

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  3. Johannah, my husband would almost always end up with swimmer’s ear after his annual man trip to one of the lakes on the border of MN and Canada. We use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide in our ears to get rid of the water. Since I gave him his own bottle with an ear dropper 2 years ago, he hasn’t had 1 infection. Would that help?
    And I feel for you: I absolutely hate humidity. I wilt in the summer, I count the days down to fall and winter because of this. I feel for you and will send breezy, arid thoughts you way.

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    • Very helpful, Michelle – thank you! I’m a little nervous to be making our own concoction of drops – but hearing your hubby not having any problems makes me feel a little better…!

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  4. There are many areas of Mexico that are NOT hot and humid. For some reason, most expats esp. Americans seem to gravitate towards those hot climates. I live in Baja/Ensenada and it is definitely not as hot as where you are. If you travel to the Mexican Highlands/Interior you will not find hot weather. So it just depends on where you go.

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