Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Under the Weather





I’m feeling miserable. There’re momentarily plenty of reasons to be miserable for, but for sure the weather is the most oppressive one.

For days on end now it has been miserably grey with a precipitation that can’t decide between drizzle and rainfall. The clouds hang low over the mountains without the slightest clearing that will let a ray of sun come through. I feel almost claustrophobic. Depressed and frustrated. I don’t want to get up in the morning for my regular hike. I can barely bring up the energy to make myself a cup of coffee. And then back to bed.

This kind of weather is the main reason I don’t want to live in Holland anymore. I can barely deal with a few days of greyness, let alone surviving six months of grey drab. I don’t mind the cold so much. What’s nicer than a snow covered landscape with a blue sky and feeble sun? Unfortunately, there’re few of those days in my home country. Autumn can be nice, with the changing colours of trees and the first chilly breeze among the lingering summer heath. But soon all colours fade and everything turns dreary. The sky is grey, the houses are grey, even people’s skin turns grey. And not a dramatic, threatening grey such as the colour that darkens the sky moments before a storm hits, or even a light, slightly civilized grey that tones down emotions and frivolities in our complicated society. Most of the time it’s just a nothingness sort of grey, that intermedium between two non-existing colours that does nothing to lift your spirit.

I remember cycling through Amsterdam, years ago during a winter visit. I felt just as miserable as I do now and wondered why people would wear “winter colours” in the winter, decent shades of black, brown, dark blue, and yes, grey. Doesn’t the overwhelming greyness cry out for lime green, electric blue, corn yellow and fuchsia pink??? I’d think so… But then I realized that I too was wearing dark jeans with a black bomber jacket, as camouflaged in the winter décor as everyone else. So right there and then, I got off my bike, turned my black bomber jacket inside out and put it back on, the neon orange lining flashing in the grey, slow flow of traffic. I remember how good that felt, a tiny rebellious act against the surrounding non-coulerness.

As long as I can remember I’ve been deeply influenced by the weather. Even as a child, as soon as the morning dawn promised a splendid day, I’d be up and around, not to miss a single minute of it. But oh, those cold and dark mornings when I would drag my feet to school…
So yes, I do much better in the tropics. In a way I miss the seasons, mostly because they’re an indicator of time. I tend to forget birthdays (or at least did so before Facebook), because I associate them with a certain season and if the sun always shines, then it’s not easy to remember a December birthday linked to an early dusk and Christmas decorations combined with birthday cake. 
But living without seasons does give a certain peace of mind. Here in Honduras you hardly ever have to think about the weather. It’s either dry or raining, there’re a few months that are a bit cooler, but generally the weather is just plain nice. That’s very different in Holland, and it shows in its people. In Holland you can never make plans to go to the beach somewhere next week in June, because even in high summer you might expect anything from tropical heat waves to cold fronts that include hailstorms. That’s why the Dutch, as soon as one ray of sunshine shines through, we massively attack the beaches, parks and terraces. Especially after a long winter, enjoying the first real day of spring is a true event that marvels many foreigners. Even at 14°C (57°F) people walk around in short sleeves while brand new summer dresses fondle milk white winter legs. (With those rare same temperatures here in Honduras we all feel we’re freezing to death!).
So, yes, I do think the weather shapes people. That’s why we Dutch are so astute and direct. We have to act now as if there’s no tomorrow. Whereas in Honduras, the weather and even the hour of nightfall is always pretty much the same. So why do something today if it can wait till tomorrow? Maybe the whole “mañana-mañana” culture is not a genetic characteristic, but influenced by the climatologic factors? Just a thought.

Anyway, I hope that mañana the sun shines again…

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