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Beating the summer heat

by michael July 23 2010
WeatherFoodThings to do
Hot weather
It's brutal out there - just ask this dude

It's almost August in Jerusalem. This can mean any number of things - watermelon season is in full swing at the shuk, the Beer Festival is coming to town - but for many of us in Jerusalem, one thing will be most noticeable: It is really, really hot. Sure, the relative height of the Judean Hills and the occasional mountain breeze means that during the hot months Jerusalem residents suffer less than their compatriots in the Levantine bayou that is summertime Tel Aviv - but when it's 90 degrees and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky since March and the desert sun is glaring fiercely off the glowing white Jerusalem stone, the difference can seem at times to be mostly academic.

Jerusalemite doesn't want you to melt out there. Jerusalemite wants you to have only good feelings about Jerusalem - not a parched mouth, sunstroke and an unnecessary intimacy with local medical care. So here's some information about keeping yourself in the cool and out of the Hadassah emergency room.

  • If your skin is any lighter than the fuul on your hummus (not a scientific gauge), and you're going to be outside for awhile, put on some sunscreen. If your skin turns to bacon, you may run into trouble with some locals who have issues with that particular meat.
  • Wear a hat. Hats are spiffy, and they keep your head from sucking in an undue amount of sun.
  • Keep hydrated. This is damned important. It's easy to forget just how quickly the baking sun of the Middle East can deplete your body's vital water supply. Always carry a big 1.5 liter bottle of water (only 6 NIS usually) for everyone in your party if you're going to be walking around outside for any significant length of time.
  • Many stores, restaurants and hotels are air-conditioned. Take advantage of this fact. Step inside. Have a smoothie. Cool down. Take life slow. For what should you hurry?
  • If you're staying in an apartment without air conditioning (yes, these still exist), keep these key Hebrew words in mind: kivunei avir. It means "directions of air [flow]," and refers to a central concept in better Jerusalem construction. Unlike apartments in cooler countries which limit their windows to one wall and heat up like a pizza oven during summer, Israeli apartments almost always have windows on at least two sides to facilitate air flow and exchange. Open these windows. Put a fan in front of one. Feel sweet relief.
  • Eat an ice cream cone. You are in Jerusalem, and you deserve it.

Stay cool out there, peoples.

Image courtesy of noneck from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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