Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The sun is shining, although it tends to be cloudy, my windows are wide open and I'm sitting on the sofa wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Having one glass of ice water after another, I wonder if you'd guess that here in Libreville the winter has just started.

Equatorial climate is still a bit tricky for me. First of all, to my European eyes, hardly anything changes, which leaves me with the impression that time stands still. To a Polish girl, who's been experiencing four well-defined seasons her whole life, the subtle changes between African dry and wet seasons might easily pass unnoticed. I am, however, doing my best to keep track of them. Today I'd like to give you an idea of what the Gabonese climate is like.

According to what I've read, tropical countries have one dry and one wet season. When it doesn't rain north of the Equator, it rains heavily in the south, and vice versa. Apparently, it depends on the circulation of the atmosphere, but if anybody can provide a more mundane (and accessible) explanation, please do. Right on the Equator, due to the masses of air passing from the southern hemisphere to the north, there are two dry and two wet seasons.

Consequently, it rains from October to December (little wet season) and from February to April (long wet season). During these months the air is terribly humid (nearly 80%), it is hot (average temperature might exceed 30 degrees) and it rains regularly, usually in the evening and at night, with lots of tropical storms. During the rest of the year, Gabon experiences dry season. It lasts from December to January (little dry season, which did not come this year) and from May to September (long dry season, which has just started).

As the only reference I have is Europe, I tend to make funny comparisons. You see, to me dry season feels a bit like autumn. When I see the dead leaves on the ground I want to wrap myself in a shawl. But it's too hot for that. Also, dry season feels a tad like Polish summer. The water in the ocean is cooler, the grass is rather dry and you might have to wear a sweater at night because the temperature will oscillate around 20 degrees. The nearly always grey sky, however, feels like early spring. You wait for the rain to come. Only it never does. Finally, at the end of the long dry season the Gabonese burn their savannah. The burned land looks menacing and deserted. And that feels like winter.

I think it's impossible for me to see the season change through African eyes. I will inevitably look for similarities between my new reality and Europe. Subconsciously, I instantly label what I cannot name. I enjoy the cool spring breeze when I go out, I look at the red autumn leaves on the ground, I take a summer plunge into the ocean and I wonder: how can all this be happening at the same time?

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