I am in the Italian countryside in a heat wave. The plants are curling up their toes, the water is running dry and the Donkey is refusing to give birth until conditions improve. Apparently it is going to break any day now, but I cannot quite believe it. For me the heat wave has been going on since I left Australia three months ago.
It rained the other day- the first rain I have been in since I was in Tanzania. It was very exciting, but two hours later although the air had been refreshed, it was back to being solidly hot.
Rain in Umbria, Italy
I have just about had enough.
Travelling in the Middle East through summer you cannot expect much else of course. You have to learn to get up early, nap through the middle of the day and then you go out and about enjoy the long balmy evenings, which almost make the heat of the day worthwhile.
If you avoid the solid heat in the middle of the day the heat is almost manageable.
But then sometimes circumstances and touristic stupidity get you out in the middle of the day.
Some of my hottest days have been:
Wandering about the desert in the Sinai checking out the rocks-
Going climbing with a Bedouin who burnt the soles of his feet off coming down the mountain in the afternoon.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Starting my first trek around the historic wonders of Petra at 11am, getting the full brunt of the hottest part of the day while climbing up to the monastery. The next day I got going at 7am finished my sight seeing by by 11, leaving before ruin fatigue fully set in.
Climbing steep steps (and getting utterly lost) as I explored the city of Amman, Jordan
Spending three hours in the blinding sun in a protest march in Jerusalem
Reputedly getting lost while carrying all my luggage – most spectacularly in Athens.
Seeing the sights of ancient Athens on a day when every sensible Greek was on an island someplace and the only people out and about were fellow tourists
Ancient ruins, Greece
Some days it just seems that no matter how much water you drink you will still be thirsty, but there are a few things that help alleviate the heat:
a carton of cold mango juice
waiting for the sun to rise on the top of Mount Sinai
a plate of salted cucumber and tomato salad,
a swim (or two) in the dead sea
a ferry ride on the Bosforous and the discovery of a park in Istanbul (first time I had seen proper trees and green grass in some months)
that first swim in the ocean
a very cold coke
a very cold beer
plunging off the side of the boat into the sea in Turkey.
really amazing nectarines
wandering around by the canals in Venice
a swim in a waterfall in the heart of Umbria
another cold shower
Sitting and making these lists has helped me realise that many of my adventures from my trip so far would not have been possible if it were not for the heat, besides- without splendid blue sky my pictures would not look so good.
another blue sky moment in Istanbul
But despite the reminder of what a good time I have been having in the heat I am still daydreaming about cooler days and plotting a walking holiday in Scotland, where I am sure that I will find some cloudy skys and cool afternoons.
Postscript: Flew from Italy to the UK and was very happy to do a lot of cloud gazing along the way. Goodbye blue sky- hello grey. 12/02/2017 Post-Postscript – six years on and still in Scotland o a very dreich day, looking over these heatwave stories makes me very nostalgic for past adventures. The lesson to learn is be careful what you wish for – Once upon a time I wished to escape the heat – and now hear I am February in Scotland!