Phew! This weekend the temperatures were off the charts as the latest of this summer’s intense heat wave blanketed Israel.
I knew moving to Israel would mean getting to grips with a whole new climate, something which up until recently I had handled pretty well. But these last few weeks…well my resilient determination not to complain about the heat has been well and truly tested.
I think we’ve all experienced those balmy summer days when the thermometer reaches the high 30s or even the low 40s – maybe not home in the UK but definitely out on our travels in the Mediterranean, Latin America and so on. A few years ago I spent an August in Israel so I was under no illusions about how hot it really can get. Of course one thing is holidaying in this type of heat for a week or two with the likelihood of a nearby swimming pool or beach to cool off by; it’s a completely different matter living through the 30°C – 40°C heat day after day for months on end trapped in a bustling city way up in the Judean Mountains.
Actually the outside heat and the beating sun are fine – we’re in the Middle East, this is what you expect. No, the culprit in our case has been our flat and its uncanny ability to trap and retain heat as if it was some kind of thermos flask. I wish we had an actual thermometer to measure our indoor temperatures because as the sun sets and the rest of Jerusalem slowly cools off, the heat in apartment lingers on for hours on end. The sensation you get from entering our apartment in the evening is similar to that you get from opening the door of an oven. Now imagine you actual have to go inside and sleep inside this furnished oven… Yes, sleepless nights have at times become an unbearable norm.
Most Israeli homes come equipped with air conditioning installed or at least ceiling fans – ours has neither. We make do with assorted stand fans situated strategically around flat in a futile attempt to cool us off – as fast as they may spin they never really do the job.
Still, we’ve managed to get by with planned trips to Asya’s parents (air-conditioned home and kibbutz pool) once we knew the ominous Sharav conditions were on their way – Sharav: the scorching hot, dry desert wind which blows from the Arabian Desert (i.e. Israeli heat waves). And instead of working from home when in Jerusalem we’ve worked and studied in the Hebrew University library which blissfully has the temperature level set at “Arctic” for the duration of the summer period.
Yes, it is all a bit different from summers back home in Northern Europe. It definitely does take time to get used to and there have been times (notably at 3 am in the morning when our bedroom is still like a sauna) when I’ve wished the hasty return of winter.
I guess we haven’t helped ourselves with us both working and studying all summer long, but at least now we can now look forward to enjoying what’s left of the summer as we have a couple of trips to Europe in the pipeline and hopefully some beach time here in Israel. But hopefully more of that in an upcoming post…