Summer, eh? Fucking hell. Here’s a list of stuff:
The first annoying thing about summer in Argentina is that it takes too long to come. It’s mid September, strictly speaking still winter, but you know Argentine weather has no respect for calendars. October comes and you’re still finding yourself wearing long trousers and sometimes —this is outrageous — socks. Even November is a bit mild and rainy. This isn’t what you signed up for, Argentina. If you’d wanted miserable weather you’d have stayed in a stable economy. Where is the sun?
2. The tragically all-too-brief spring.
Then suddenly it’s here! The sun is shining! Everyone’s out in the park, in the swimming pools! Cool evenings on sidewalk cafés! You’ve spent all the your money on alcohol and your genitals kind of itch in a worrying way. This is what you came here for! This is it for the next three months. But hang on…
3. The sudden escalation in temperature.
Whoa, shit! You didn’t expect it to get this hot this quickly. You had, what, ten days of 28ºC during the day and 18ºC at night. This was an Optimum Temperature Situation (OTS). It has now become apparent that this Optimum Temperature Situation (OTS) was as fleeting as that time when the exchange rate and inflation magically combined and you were rich for, like, one month. It is now 35ºC during the day and, weirdly, 36ºC at night, but it feels even hotter. You shower four times a day but the sweat starts again within five minutes of towelling off.
4. The weirdness of Christmas.
What? You have to celebrate Christmas in this heat? But you don’t feel Christmassy at all! You download Christmas carols, watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to get in the mood, but you’re just not feeling the magic. You wait expectantly for a Christmas parcel from back home that will eventually arrive in February, half its contents missing, after you spend three hours queuing to pick it up in the blazing sun in Retiro. Christmas here sucks bottom. And what is this food?! You make a New Year’s resolution amid the downtown-Damascus-style fireworks on New Year’s Eve to spend next December back home. And we haven’t even talked about January yet.
Fucking hell. January. No one warned you about January. Or they did, but you didn’t listen. The locals can be awfully patronizing sometimes and you stopped paying attention to their warnings some time ago. You have no holidays planned, or if you do they’re booked in somewhere even more hideously hot than Buenos Aires because you booked them back in October, a month that is now a distant idyllic memory of cool breezes and sleep-filled nights, and you wanted to guarantee a suntan. The thought of going out in the sun now terrifies you. You’re pretty sure you’ve done some kind of permanent damage to your skin. The air conditioning in your apartment seems to have broken down, it just hums and expels warm air, but you can’t find anyone to fix it until April. You know no one with a swimming pool. The sweat mixes with the tears. You seriously consider buying a chest freezer and living in it until autumn comes.
6. January Part II – The Nightmare Continues
This is getting ridiculous. You’re now sweating within ten minutes of getting up in the morning, even though you’ve taken to getting up at 5am just to have a tiny bit of almost cool weather for the first fifteen minutes of your day. All of the plants on your balcony have died, even though you water them every day. You’re so ill-tempered from the heat that you’re starting arguments with everyone, including your cat, who’s so chilled and yet so furry it makes you so angry. Please make this stop.
Contrary to what you’d hoped, the change in month makes no difference to the temperature. You find yourself staring at sweaters and long trousers in your wardrobe and wondering what the hell you ever needed them for. It’s announced on the news that it was something like 89ºC somewhere in northern Argentina. You learn about the sensación térmica and take to calling it the Thermal Sensation, and tell all your friends back home how it’s 50ºC here, actually, with a strange mixture of boastful pride and quiet desperation at the fact that you’re going to melt before the weekend comes unless it finally rains.
8. It finally rains.
It feels like you’ve been living in this surreal steamy plain all your life. You can’t remember a time when you wore more than just underpants and flip-flops. Then the rain comes. The build-up — lightning in the skies in the distance, rising winds that whip up the dust and the garden furniture — takes about three hours and you worry this is going to be one big cock-tease. But no. It fucking pours down for six hours straight. The TV news has a collective orgasm. You think of those villages in Africa where nothing grows because of the drought and then nothing grows because of the floods. You wonder if Argentina and the rest of the region might have broken the weather with so much deforestation. You can only have these intelligent thoughts with the cool weather that comes after the rain, because then…
9. It gets really hot again really quickly.
And there are like 200,000 more mosquitoes than there were before it rained. You want to die, and if your death must come by the novel hand of Zika, then so be it.
10. Autumn? Nah.
March comes. It really needn’t have bothered. April? Meh. There was that one day when you were able to pull on a pair of long trousers, but even that proved premature and you had to come back home because you’d sweat through another pair of underpants. You now own twenty-eight pairs of underpants just so you can get through one week without having to do a wash.
11. The locals keep telling you how May used to be really cold.
They tell you how they used to be able to see their breath on the way to school, how they’d be really freezing in the classroom every morning, how the parades on May 1st and May 25th were always dreaded because they’d be outside in short trousers, as if they longed for a return to such cold discomfort and imposed nationalism. You’re still sweating. You gaze longingly at a winter coat you bought last August and have worn precisely three times.
12. The sudden descent into ‘fuck me, how cold is it?’
Then round about the start of June the weather just kind of skips autumn all together and goes straight to winter. I mean, really it’s a positively mild 15ºC during the day, but everyone’s wrapped up in gloves and scarves and the shoddy cold-weather garments of the overpriced national clothing industry. You realise there is no form of heating in your rented flat, or insulation, or any way of blocking the drafts blowing through the window. You put on all the clothes you have and go to bed, wishing once again for a return to summer, forgetting all about what it did to you last time around, how it hurt you, how it punished you. You don’t care. You still love it.