Aug 282007
 
Authors: Luci StorelliCastro

Dear Mates,

Some of you are probably wondering why I am referring to you as a “mate.” Somehow you missed the part where Fort Collins is an expansive outback with kangaroos diddling about and boomerangs swerving ahead.

In my quest for finding a non-exclusionary, all-encompassing and welcoming term to address you by, I was caught between using mate and comrade. However, the latter, although benign in meaning (it means buddy, pal or friend), can hardly be divorced from communism or its more diluted counterpart, socialism. To avoid opening each letter with what could be misconstrued as an unintended political statement, mate won out in the end.

Logistics aside, let’s get to the kernel of this article: acclimatizing to what is surely going to be an endless summer. Goodbye snow, hello year-long tan.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks, as one might imagine. After months of nightmarish medical consultations on all the possible ways you can kick the bucket in Africa, plus all the typical amusements that come with preparing for a 10-month trip, I arrived in Accra on Aug. 12.

Flying overhead, I was enthralled by the vast greenness of the landscape. It is what is to be expected since Ghana is currently in its rainy season. As locals have explained to me, there aren’t four seasons in Ghana.

There are only two: the rainy season and the dry season.

During the rainy season, the landscape will maintain its vibrant greenness and temperatures will remain around the mid to upper 80s, with temperatures dropping by nightfall in some locations. It will also constantly rain or, more accurately, drizzle. This increases the humidity, which at the moment is at 83 percent.

Then comes the dry season, where it will cease to rain for months at a time. The lush green grass will gradually die off and turn yellow, whilst the temperatures will intensify into the upper 90s degrees Fahrenheit and above.

The international students are in for some suffering during the dry season, considering we are in one of the coolest months in Ghana and there are already complaints about how hot it is and how uncomfortable it is to be sticky from sweat all the time.

During nightfall at the international hostel, the scene is quite comical: the African students from Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon walk around, often draped in light sweaters while the western students from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, Belgium and Japan are in tank tops or bare skin.

“It’s so cold,” my Ghanaian neighbor, Eunice, moans tucking her arms deep into her sweater on a breezy night that could not have been more than in the low 70s. Right next to her, Dave, a student from upstate New York and I exchange perplexed glances.

“I have a feeling we are in for it,” I tell him.

Ironically, although I have not felt the bristling cold that Eunice shivered about, I have managed somehow to catch a common cold. This came as a surprise considering I prepared for the rough terrain of Africa with vaccinations against polio, Hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, yellow fever, tetanus, meningitis and take a daily dose of Doxycycline malaria pills.

Good thing my mom didn’t listen to me when I said, “Why are you putting NyQuil in my bag? Africa is like really hot.”

It just goes to show you that moms know best.

Luci Storelli-Castro is a senior political science and philosophy major. Her column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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