Harmattan

It has been refreshingly cool lately, at least for those of us accustomed to the heat and humidity of Cotonou. Every year we experience harmattan sometime between December and March. Harmattan is a dry and dusty wind that blows down from the north carrying dust that it has picked up from the Sahara.

These days when we walk outside in the morning there is fog settled over the city, except instead of moisture it’s a fog of dust that even keeps one from seeing the sun clearly. It brings cooler weather, perhaps because the northern winds are cool or perhaps because the dust blocks the sun, I’m not sure which. In any case the temperature drops to as low as 65 F at night before getting back to the mid 80s F during the afternoon. Now admittedly that’s not so cold for those of you in cooler climates, especially during these wintertime months in North America, but here it’s quite a change from the normal temperatures in the mid to high 90s F.

We enjoy the reprieve from the heat but it’s not quite the same for our Beninese friends who haven’t spent a winter in North America or Europe. When it gets down around 70 F folks start getting out the heavy coats, gloChristopheves and stocking caps. Today Christophe arrived all bundled up!

While we enjoy the cooler weather, we could definitely do without the dust. It’s so fine that it finds its way into the house. Even though you dust something in the morning by the afternoon if you wipe your finger on it you’ll find a thin film of dust. People seem to get more colds and coughs during this time too as we’re all breathing those fine dust particles. I really notice it on the car because even if it gets washed in the morning it’s all dusty by evening again.
Dusty Car

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