The effort necessary to explain how hot Paraguay is – it makes me sweat. I don’t ever turn my bedroom light on. It’s my brain that’s trying to save me, a survival instinct you see. All light is connected to heat. I know that the meager glimmers of warmth elicited from the electrical current of my light bulb produce warmth, therefore increasing the temperature in my bedroom by even a fraction of a degree, yet enough to make more sweat ooze from my skin. I never turn my bedroom light on, day or night.
“Carmensita, why don’t you turn the light on?” My host mom prods again and again.
I shine the screen of my cell phone upon her face and rub the space on my breast bone where sweat trickles.
It’s not just the electricity that I have come to fear. The shade can’t be trusted. You see, the sun dapples. Peeking at me through the tree leaves, they attack me like mosquitoes. I dodge them in puppet fashion, tilting my head toward my shoulder to escape a ray of light that touches my forehead, raising my left arm to avoid a cluster of them that are wavering about on my elbow. A sun dapple can suck the color from my arm hairs, they sure can. I spread my legs and tuck my feet under me so they can’t get at my knees and toes.
There’s two blankets hung over my window. They help to keep me secluded from any form of light that may contain heat within it’s beam. I don’t want any of that passing across my skin. You won’t catch me taking a shower with the light on. Not during any of the three I take throughout the day, I don’t ever turn on the light.
Three showers, you say, a waste of water. I’ll tell you, it’s not because I smell like a dirty sock, but because it’s the only relief I can get from this godforsaken country and it’s 120 degree mess of torture. I’ll stand in there about four minutes, put my finger in my mouth and take my own temperature, under the tongue. It’s a million degrees in there, under my tongue. Four minutes give or take, but once I’m out, leaving that forgiving stream of water, it only takes but a minute, moving my limbs about a little trying to dry off and BAM, there they are, sweat drops, hovering in the rim of my collarbone. Is that my hair dripping? Is that sweat that tastes like water sitting on my upper lip? I’m never sure, but never dry.
I can’t even put on my clothes after these shower endeavors. My skin, it gets so swollen, so damp, you can’t pull any clothes over it. They cling and stick on me, make me twist and tug. I lay like a surrendered fish under my fan, naked as a jaybird, trying to dry. I can get dry enough after about ten minutes. If I have my clothes laid out next to me I can slide them on careful like, as long as I’m still laying on my back while I do it. You don’t move very fast, there’s a trick to it. Don’t want to start another outbreak before you get them all on.
Another trick: I don’t let my limbs touch. All throughout the day I’m careful. You can’t bend at the elbow. Legs can’t touch one another, not even at the ankle, absolutely no crossing, ever. Don’t lean the head too far forward, the double chin will getcha. Sweat will get in those wrinkles you see. Nothing irks me more. I hate the feel of a sweat drip, can’t decide if it’s a bug getting at me or just my own self leaking. The bending motion and cocked angle of my wrist when I’m writing is the cause of wet marks and smudged ink on my paper. I hate that too. The back of the knee is perhaps the worst place to sweat from.
I walk like an artist, like an acrobat. I’m not above leaping, trespassing and crouching while trying to get from one place to the next, all while staying in a continual covering of shade. On a good day it’s all achieved while maintaining the stiff-limbed, no-body-crease gait. You should see me walk down these streets of Paraguay.
When I’m hot and can’t cool down, it lets something loose in me like rage. Like when you are trying to sleep but the bugger next to you has got the snoring gene and just wont stop. That causes me rage too. It’s similar to the heat rage.
I’ve decided that I sweat out all my vitamins, nutrients and necessities, all of them by noon each day. I must be deficient in just about everything I would think. I got my hands on a bottle of multivitamins, I take it almost every day like a good girl. Next month I’ll double the dose, it’s necessary you see, with the amount of water I’m drinking. Next month I’ll take two a day, maybe even three. One after each shower.