The weather here in England at the moment reminds me a bit of when I was living in Darwin. It`s the humidity that makes it feel so much hotter because it doesn`t allow us to get dry at all and so we don`t cool off. In Darwin it can reach almost one hundred percent, you drip the moment you leave the house, I think here in the UK today it`s around eighty five percent, so for many of us, very uncomfortable.
The average temperature in Darwin is slightly under 40 degrees all year round, (that`s 104 degrees Fahrenheit to those of us who still remember that measurement.) In the summer the temperature will drop slightly so that it`s hot and dry and quite fresh, like an ordinary summer`s day here in the UK. But come October, in Darwin the temperature begins to heat up. They call it the build-up and it reaches its peak around the end of November when it is ferociously hot. People go mad with the heat in Darwin, couples fight, people fall out, lots of people drink massive amounts of alcohol and then go a bit more mad and sometimes kill someone. In Darwin they call it the suicide season and in fact Darwin has a very high rate of suicide, particularly amongst young men between 16 – 25. Perhaps they feel trapped in all that heat and all that distance away from the rest of the world.
Because Darwin is so hot, the Federal Government encourages skilled people into the area with rewards, for example, if you are a nurse or a teacher and you commit to ten years of working in Darwin, you then receive six months off on full pay. Not bad eh! People don`t naturally gravitate there because it really is the back of beyond, it sits right on the Equator and because it really is one of the hottest places on the earth.
In Darwin the shopping malls are air conditioned and everyone gathers there daily, simply to get out of the heat. When you stroll up the road you will hear people shouting to their kids, “Shut that door!” It`s to keep the cool air in. Everyone`s houses have louver windows that are permanently open in any unoccupied rooms and lots of houses are built on stilts, which keeps them a bit cooler.
Like many places with dodgy infrastructure, Darwin is prone to electricity blackouts. I can`t tell you how horrible it is lying in 40 degrees of heat trying to sleep without any fan or air conditioning to cool you down. The only thing to do is go and run a shower but you will often find that the cold water is hot because in the Northern Territory, the water pipes run overground. (Only in Darwin!)
Mind you, all that heat produces some stunning thunderstorms and spectacular displays of lightening which you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world. The claps of thunder are so loud, it is easy to imagine it is God speaking, I loved it. Then down comes the hot, hot rain, in sheets, heavy and heady, you are soaked within moments and dry again, well, damp at any rate in not much more time.
Lots of people ask me how it is that I managed to cope with all that heat in Darwin but the answer is simple. I had a swimming pool in my back garden with a shady canopy over it to stop the water from becoming too warm. I could dip in and out as many times a day as I liked and believe me I frequently did! I could handle this hot weather today in the UK, much better if I had my own pool.
I think we are around 23 degrees centigrade in Brum today so a bit cooler, thank goodness. Roll on the autumn, I never did like the heat very much. 🙂