It is ‘Cold Season’ here. It is supposedly cold. I’m still sweating. Calling it ‘Cold Season’, as Gambians do, is misleading. Maybe Colder Season or Less Hot Season, as what we have here is nowhere near the definition of cold; cold as an Englishman defines it. All the Gambians keep insisting that it is cold. At first I thought that they were kindly trying to trick me, that if everybody told me that it was getting cold I would psychosomatically begin to feel cold. Although it is certainly cooler, the heat no longer incessantly stumbling into your mind, the average Gambian response to the drop in temperature seems so exaggerated as to be farcical. On my way to school this morning I came across a group of men sitting around a fire, heads nestled into their coats like nervous tortoises, their hands either reaching out to catch as much warmth from the fire as possible, or clasping steaming plastic mugs of tea religiously. I greeted them briefly and kept on my way happily in my shorts and t shirt.
I’m yet to have to wear more than one layer in The Gambia. This is the first year of my life where I will not experience winter, where I will not have to wrap up in coats and scarves, will not have to reluctantly pull back a thick duvet in the morning, worry about thermostats, drafts, and thermals. I don’t miss winter, I always thought I suffered from seasonal affective disorder, perhaps just an excuse to vegetate through the dark winter months. But it seemed a reality all the same.