Originally published July 11, 2011
It is more than a fog, less than a rain. It is the heavy mist that sometimes appears in the winter in Lima. The locals call it la garua, a sea mist caused by warm winds interacting with the cool water of the ocean. It is a condition found usually from June through November along the Peruvian Coast.
The streets are wet, but not very much— just enough so that my dogs start complaining as we do our daily walk. Unused to any discomfort whatsoever, they don’t like the feel of the wet pavement on their tender bare paws. I guess that I will have to buy them booties like some other dog owners around here.
I admit that I love to see this kind of weather. The dark misty days remind me of growing up in a similar climate in California, near San Francisco. I like the feel of the light sprinkle on my head; and the closed-in, almost snug feeling given off by the thick grey ceiling of the sky. It is cold, but not enough to really bother me. In fact, I don’t even own a raincoat anymore.
I feel invigorated as I walk around, much more energetic than in the heavy humidity of the summer. Then I just want to go to sleep in the afternoons; all day I feel very lazy. Well, even more than usual.
Native Limeños, on the other hand, respond to the winter weather with hats, scarves and heavy coats as if they were experiencing the severe weather conditions of the Arctic or maybe Alaska. They complain about the cold even though it never gets below 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). Most residents of the East Coast of the U.S. would welcome a day like that as a relief from the really severe cold of winter.
I am amused by people who tell me that it never rains in Lima. It is true that we are located in a desert. But it seems to me to be splitting hairs. A heavy garua is rain. Everything gets wet and the cars have to use windshield wipers. Unfortunately we don’t get the heavy downpour that would thoroughly wash off the buildings which become covered with the dust and smoke of the big city.
In that regard, I believe that we could use a good heavy rain once in a while just to clean things off. To me it would be prefect if we could have a heavy downpour for 15 minutes every night around 2:00 AM. If the weather god is listening to me, now is the time to start.
I also like the fog which is ever present at this time of the year. Sometimes the stuff closes us in almost completely. I don’t mind. I look down the street and wisps hang around the street corners, closing in our world.
Sun worshipers must hate it. The good thing for them is that they can usually find the sun shining a few miles from here in a totally different climate.
Larry J. Pitman is a college professor and writer who moved to Peru in 2005. He is part of the Peru Writers Group.