I have not yet described the heat to you. It is quite remarkable. Here instead of sheltering inside shopping malls against the snow, sleet and rain you shelter from the sun.
I remember once in St Petersburg in December Rupert and I decided to walk from the Grand Hotel to the Hermitage (like you do). “You’ll never make it,” said the concierge. He was right. Despite regular sips of blueberry vodka from a hip flask, we had to take shelter.
Here it is the same but it’s the heat that will hinder your progress. I couldn’t imagine walking from here, for example, to the Corniche, which would probably only take fifteen minutes. I would melt en route. Even with an umbrella which I have noticed lots of people carry as a sun-shelter. There is no relief from the sea either. We went swimming yesterday. I kid you not, the water was as hot as a bath.
It’s strange though, I don’t dislike it too much. I find it quite comforting. It really is like walking into a steam room every time you go outside, the shock of it hits you and doesn’t lessen. But rather that than the Russian winter. The paper we’re going to work on here seems to be staffed mainly by Canadians, no surprise that.
Meanwhile our housing crisis lurches on. All being well (or Inshallah as we say down this way) we will be transferred to another, nicer, bigger hotel apartment today. Our dream flat is still not ours on account of our inability to come up with two annual salaries in one day.
But we are settling in. Suda our Sri Lankan cricket-playing taxi driver is a gem. The kind of man who is always calm, kind and charming. The children love him. He has his own family, but they are in Sri Lanka. He only sleeps three and a half hours a night so he can support them by working practically around the clock. I guess there are thousands of people like him here. We are all so spoilt in comparison.
Talking of spoiling, my new friend Amanda and I are going to have our hair done today and get manicures which I think will make all the difference. Not only to my hair but to my state of mind. And I will never complain about lack of sleep again now that I know what Suda does every day, day in and day out.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008