This last week there has been a definite change in the air. We are heading for winter. In fact here it we don’t really have 4 distinct seasons; summer morphs into winter without much demarkation. Water temperature change is gradual of course, from the 28/29oC of mid summer down to the 19/20oC of winter.
I have been sleeping with the luxury of air conditioning for the first time this summer. This is the first time I have had it in 5 summers and now I don’t know how I coped without it. (Well I do actually – by having a fan in my face 24/7 and waking up about 4 times a night to stand under the shower with its warm water, stand dripping wet in front of the fan to feel an imagined icy blast before laying a wet towel on the bed to sleep for a few hours before waking up to repeat the process. So much for needing 8 hours interrupted sleep. That habit has well and truly been broken, but that is another story…
At a previous house, which was exposed to the south, the concrete walls and ceramic floors would make it unbearably hot during the day. One day came home to find M lying in the living area (the bedroom was on the southern side even hotter) on a soaking wet towel laid over a small mattress. At his head and feet he had placed shallow metal cooking trays filled with water with fans blowing across these onto his body like mini air conditioners. He was covered head to tail with a wet towel and was taking a siesta. When I remarked that he was meant to be used to the heat, he is Bedouin, he replied “Modern Bedouin have air conditioning.” Fair enough. So now you often see (and hear) air conditioning units pumping way in the most humble looking of abodes.
So back to the changes of change. The air is noticeably more damp. The other morning I had an early ride so when I left the house before 7am the sand outside was positively wet, like it ad been rained on (which of course it hadn’t). My apartment is only about 100m from the sea but there are quite a few buildings now inbetween.
The dates are ripening on the palms. I didn’t know there were different coloured dates – surprising colours of gold, red and rich dark cherry-brown. I didn’t even like dates before I came here. In fact I would eat them in a date scone, but sometimes I thought they just spoilt the scone. But here there are many different dates and tasting the rich fleshy sweet ones with skin that just slides off is divine.There is nothing like tasting food from the source in season.
They even make delicious drinks from dates, although often over sweetened for my taste. You can tell I am now a date convert! The horses love them too! Out riding I often let them pick up the windfalls so they look forward to riding by their favourite palm tree.
The horses have even started growing their winter coats. Detour has gone a shade darker and I can’t get a shine to his coat – but that probably has more to do with the fact that the stablehand, who has free rein again, is back to washing the horses with detergent that should be used for washing dishes. (But lets not go there today – I will just lapse in to a depressing bitch session.) Anyway the horses are growing winter coats which means they go from coats about 4 ml length to about 6 ml, except for Sandy the shetland. She still gets a thick pelt like coat – nothing like she would get if she was in ths Shetland Isles but thicker than any of the others here.
Winter means it will get cold enough to wear jeans and maybe shoes or boots. I think wore socks a few times last winter. My feet are so used to running free it feels really weird to have them enclosed in shoes. I feel like a toddler having to learn to walk again tripping over my toes and feeling every step. But then it feels all snuggly and warm and I pretend I am cold. Evenings at an open restaurant can of course be cold but the restaurants don’t want to lose customers so they burn braziers between the rows of seats or dig a bedouin style fire with circling stones to sit around. One restaurant has even made gas braziers fitted in the top of large ceramic pots.
It is exciting to get different clothes out of the wardrobe. I will even get to wear jerseys and complain of how cold it is at15oC. We will sit inside for the Wednesday pub quiz instead of on the second floor deck.The days are still relatively warm unless there is a brisk breeze blowing down the Gulf (of Aqaba). These are the days you get photos of the tourist in shorts and T-shirt standing beside the local in hat and ski jacket.
But the clothes will still dry on the line and the sun will still shine. All good…