Whether to Weather the Weather

The title is really nonsensical, but I had a Dr. Seuss-moment and went with it.

Typically the weather is Cairo is “warm and sunny” maybe with a touch of “hot and sunny” sometimes reaching to “Hades and sunny.” But you get the general drift. However, once in a while we get a spot of rain, which kindly washes the 9-month accumulation of dirt and dust from the trees down onto the sidewalks, roads and, if you’re unfortunate enough, your clothes (which then have to be binned as they are truly not salvageable). This results in a gooey slippery coating which merely adds a layer of fun to the already cartoonish driving conditions, not to mention walking conditions. Luckily, we’ve only had rain 4-5 times in 13 months.

The other weather phenomenon we have are sandstorms, or khamsins. They say these are most common in March and April, however I have experienced them periodically throughout any of the non-summer months. In Cairo the skies become almost dull yellow, there’s no sunlight beams peeking through, visibility drops to nil (which is marginally different from the pollution-related-nil-visibility) and you are suddenly getting a free sand rub-down on your face as the wind whips around you. I snapped this photo from a cab a few weeks ago when I suddenly realized, “Hey, I’m in a sandstorm.”

However, when you’re not avoiding rain or khamsins, and it’s not the height of summer, Cairo weather is beautiful. It’s sunny and warm in the daytime, and cool and lovely at night. And luckily enough, this goes on for a good six+ months a year. I’d have to say that Spring is my favorite “season” (if you can call it that, it’s more of a 20 degree temperature shift). The sun is warm and bright, the breeze keeps you cool and flowering trees and bushes are in full bloom with exploding color around every corner.

There are occasional days that present with no khamsin and no pollution, just deep blue skies and big white fluffy clouds. However, these tend to be as rare as the khamsin days, hence the need to capture it photographically.

Regardless of the weather, the one constant I have found that is necessary despite any other factors is having big Elizabeth Taylor sunglasses. Foregoing any pretense at attempting to appear fashionable, I have come to accept the bigger the better in sunglasses. Khamsin or not, there are always clumpy particles and crud flying through the air here, so I find it’s best to go for eye protection one stop short of a welder’s mask. But maybe with a glittery butterfly or Chanel logo on the side.