As I mentioned, the heat has come to Katima. For the last month or so, it has been warm—95F or so in the middle of the day, which was actually quite nice. But this week, we are topping 100F every day. I was okay up to about 100, but yesterday it was more life 104F or so and that just felt like too much, particularly because my office (which has no air-conditioning, not even a fan) gets sun all afternoon. We have had a couple of sporadic thunderstorms, which usually provide relief, so I am now looking forward to the rainy season. And there are signs that it is coming. One big sign, actually.
Yesterday, as I was walking to town, I noticed there was this noise. I was walking toward it and it was getting louder and louder. Finally, I walked past the stand of trees and I was transported back to a scene of standing on a street corner in Rome in the August heat—cicadas! That was the cacophony! It was as if they appeared out of nowhere and now there were thousands of them, maybe even millions.
A bit later, I was in a shop near the Market and there was a tree there obviously also filled with cicadas. I asked the woman in the shop what the local word was for these insects, but she didn’t know or couldn’t recall. But she said that they come when the rains are coming. There are no clouds in the sky, but the cacophony of the cicadas brings hope!
Another random observation: There is an interesting habit of grocery shopping here. Actually two things. One, which really annoyed me when I first got here, but I’m easier with now—people will get in line in the grocery store and then leave their basket and go off to get more things. That’s not so bad. But sometimes, they don’t leave anything, they just say “this is my place” and go off and come back some time later. This is annoying if there is a long line and you think, “oh there are 6 people ahead of me” and then suddenly two or three people show up and just jump in front of you.
The other habit that fascinates me is that people come to the register with their basket and don’t buy everything in the basket, they just leave things in the basket. Sometimes you see folks carefully placing items and watching the total add up—clearly they have a budget and they are buying things in order of priority. Other times, though, people just put some items on the counter and leave others, as if, “well it looked good on the shelf, but now I’m not so interested.“ And everyone here shops this way. There are many baskets sitting all around all the registers with one or two or three items in them. In every store. It would seem the process is—grab whatever looks good in the moment and then, as you wait in the line (which you surely will), you have time to review your basket and choose what you really need. Interesting.