Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Seasons are Not What They Seem in Gabon

If you ever plan on traveling to Africa, especially Equatorial Africa, be sure to get the inside scoop on the weather from someone at your destination.

Gabon has 2 short Dry seasons; June – August and December/January.  The remainder of the year is considered Rainy season.  Gabon gets more than 100 inches of rain per year (Seattle only gets 36).  If you are like me, you may have thought, I have to remember to take advantage and get as much traveling done and pictures taken during the dry season.  Not the case.  Dry season is the worst time to come.  Sure, it’s a little cooler, but that’s because it’s cloudy, overcast and grey every day.  The rainy season on the other hand, is the best time to come, with bright blue skies and sunny days.  Yes, there is the occasional grey day, but it mostly rains at night.  I think I notice the rain more in NYC than I do in Libreville.  That’s not to say that I don’t see the rain; when it rains here, it pours.  Rivers accumulate in the street and flights don’t land.  What I mean is, the rainy days that affect your mood are more prevalent in NYC.

The other perspective that I have recently learned which relates to this is that seasons affect us culturally. 

In the northeastern United States we have four seasons.  Although we relate to them as summer vacation and back-to-school, the actual winter, spring, summer, fall came first. We have break during the summer because it’s too hot.

Culturally, we have always ‘planned ahead’ because of the seasons.  Farmers plan harvest to get them through the winter.  Girlfriends plan on what shoes and bags to purchase for the spring, or how much weight to lose before the summer.

In Gabon, they don’t have dramatic seasons. It’s pretty much the same all of the time…HOT.  As a result, they never really had to plan ahead.  Since it’s always hot, there is no change in attire.  Papayas, mangoes and coconuts grow throughout the year.  Culturally, they have had no reason to ‘plan’ to the extent that we do back home.

And to think I was relating to certain people culturally as lazy.

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