how’s the weather over there?

Let me try to give a better impression of how hot it was in the Middle East.

Kuwait is typically a dry heat, so your body’s cooling systems do their job well.  Your sweat evaporates into the parched air and takes a lot of heat with it.  You stay (relatively) comfortable and dry…as long as you stay hydrated.  That’s the ticket.  So the 120F temperatures feel less so.

As you head west, toward the Levant — especially Palestine and Israel — the temperature cools a bit but the humidity rises.  You might sweat less, but the thick, moist air prevents it from evaporating, so it stays on your skin.  So you not only feel quite a bit hotter than the thermometers would have you believe, but you’re also drenched and sticky.

A few days ago, Portland, OR, USA hit record temperatures — something around 109F.  I was used to it being that hot, in the shade in the Middle East.  No complaints.  So during that record-breaking day in Portland, I was perfectly comfortable doing work out in the yard and garden beneath the increasingly intense heat of the afternoon sun.  That night, I slept quite comfortably in my south-facing, unshaded top-floor bedroom (the hottest room in the house), beneath my down comforter.   Yes, the other members of my household thought I was crazy (actually, they think that about me quite regularly).  But the point is, it’s amazing how our bodies acclimate to new conditions over time.

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