Monday, July 15, 2013

To everything there is a season, unless you're on the equator

Until now, I'd only ever lived in places with four distinct seasons. I'm one of those people who can barely concentrate at the turn of the season because I'm so excited for the next one, especially winter (the first snow) and spring (baseball season)--so living here at the equator has been a new and sometimes trying experience. 
Quito's seasons are rainy and dry. Right now is supposed to be summer here, but as far as I can tell the only difference between now and the rainy season is that the clouds that come in the afternoon don't let loose every single day like before. During the rainy season, there are a couple downpours every afternoon, but there really aren't many days that are totally rainy. Same thing in the dry season: most mornings are sunny and clear and most afternoons are cloudier and oftentimes overcast. 
When the sun is out its rays are super intense, so I have to wear 50 SPF, even though it's only 60-70 degrees out. (This takes some getting used to and I've been badly burned a time or two). When the sun goes behind a cloud, you can really tell, because what makes you hot is the sun's intensity, rather than the air temperature. So, you need to dress in layers and carry an umbrella. I went to the park yesterday in shorts and regretted it every time the sun went behind a cloud. 
There's not much variation when it comes to light and dark, either. Every morning, the sun rises a little after 6am and every evening, it sets at about 6:30pm. It's good as far as being predictable, but strange. It gets fairly chilly at night here and because it gets dark pretty early it feels a bit like fall at night. But then the sun comes up every morning early and it's so warm and birds are chirping and it's spring again. Confusing.
Anyway, if you're going to be trapped in one season, spring is probably the best one to be trapped in. It's rarely too hot or too cold--perfect weather for running, sports, parks, and hikes. If you want colder temps, there are volcanoes close by and if you want hotter temps, there are beaches about a day's bus ride away and jungle even closer. This is probably the ideal climate and setting for a lot of people.
But eternal spring has had all sorts of strange effects on me. For awhile--before I had a job and had to write down the date on things--I could never remember what month it was. And I still wake up confused as to what season, month, and time it is. I've gotten used to the weather by now of course, but part of me feels stuck. I need that change in the weather and the season to keep me aware of time passing, of change in general. As silly as it sounds, I need the seasons to remind me of the cycle of death and rebirth. I need long, cold winters to make me appreciate the spring and summer; I need chilly, sad autumns to look forward to in the heat of August. 
I've had friends who've had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which makes them depressed in the winter months. And, I know winter can be depressing for people because of the lack of sun and warmth, etc. Even though I love snow and bragging about subzero temps, I'll admit I was pretty sick of winter when I was in Russia. But without dead, cold, starkly beautiful winters, and without hot, dry, burning summers, I just feel suspended in time, not changing. I don't have SAD or a depression brought on by eternal spring, I just have this longing for a change and an undefinable sense that something is not quiet right. Part of this could also be due to the fact that I'm obsessed with following the weather/forecast, which leaves me pretty bored when it doesn't change. 
Whatever the reason, I'm happily looking forward to being on the run again, experiencing different climates, countries, and cultures. This week is finals week at UDLA and after some make up exams next week, I'll hang up my profesora cardigan in exchange for some work gloves and prepare to head south to Peru, volunteering on some farms and sightseeing for a month or two. Then, it's north to Colombia for a bit of the same before flying out of Bogota and back to the US of A for a real winter at the end of November.

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