It seems contrary to what we know as typical weather patterns in North America, but May is by far the hottest month in Colonial Mexico. Locals and expats alike flee the cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel during this month when the heat finally arrives, right before the monsoons come to cool things back down. It’s a steamy, sticky time when an oppressive brown haze seems to hang in the valley, trapped by the opposing hills.
I left the Winnie back in mid-March when temps were getting down to the 50’s at night in Guanajuato. I packed accordingly, so I am living out of a backpack filled with wool socks, jeans, long sleeves, and long flowing scarves to keep my neck warm at night. I am reduced to shopping in the used clothing booth at the Sunday Market just to find Men’s khaki shorts that will fit me in this country of petite women half my size.
I complain continuously, much to the dismay of friends and family, that the heat and haze are growing increasingly uncomfortable. My friend Peggy says, “You lived in Atlanta! You should be used to this!” But I remind her that when I lived in Atlanta, “at no time did my daily commute involve climbing 150 stairs in the direct midday sun! When I lived in Atlanta, I went from air conditioned office to air conditioned car to air conditioned stores.” There is one building in all of Centro with air conditioning; The OXXO, similar to our 7-11. Just how much time can I justify, hanging out on the soft drink aisle?
The beige haze overhead is closing in on me. The very thing I love about living in the high desert of Colonial Mexico, low humidity, has temporarily been replaced by a sky looking as if it’s been photographed through a sienna filter, trapping the sweat on my skin like a cheap moisturizer. The fires in the nearby hills don’t help. A local explains these fires are a result of people drinking in the remote hillsides, breaking their glass bottles, the pieces which then act like a magnifying glass to start smoldering fires among the parched scrub brush. Haze and smoke fill the “bowl” of the valley. Even the locals and shopkeepers that I encounter along my commute complain, “Hace mucho calor!”
I wrestle with the decision of whether to stay or go. And if I go, where? This brings me to some soul searching questions. Do I want to continue living as a backpacker, practicing my Spanish while exploring the yet unvisited areas of Latin America? Maybe head into the mountains of Chiapas until the weather cools down, then return to Guanajuato? I’ve made a lot of friends here, but one by one, many are leaving too. Or do I want return to my life as an RV fulltimer, jockeying for summertime reservations in increasingly crowded parks overrun with vacationers? Maybe I want to shift gears altogether and find a way to feed my true desire of being a sailor, called by the lure of the sea? It’s one of the most conflicted feelings I’ve had since retiring. As the Magic 8 Ball would say, the future is “Hazy.”