Located at just 12 degrees south of the equator, we don’t really have seasons in Salvador. Being a tropical climate, the average daily temperature year-round is between 75 and 80˚ F year-round (24 – 27˚ C) with little nighttime cooling. And, humidity sits at 80% year-round. The only way you can really distinguish summer from winter is that we have more clouds and get considerably more rain during the winter. (Get the full climate breakdown for Salvador here.)
For this Seattle girl, this is a lot to take in. After all, I am the person who I moved from Minneapolis to Seattle for the temperate climate. If you aren’t familiar with Seattle weather, it rarely gets below freezing and until the past few years we rarely saw days much above 80°F.
But, I digress. The point being that I have learned a few techniques over the past few years to help me adapt to a climate that isn’t ideal for me.
8 Tips for Surviving the Heat
- Fans, lots of fans. Ceiling fans are great, but when it gets really hot, the trick of the locals is to have a second, portable fan that you put on the floor/chair to run wind through the room as well.
- Cold showers during the day. In the worst of the summer, it’s 2-3 showers a day for me. This is what the Brazilians all do — and it works.
- Warm showers at night. I know it’s completely counter-intuitive, but warm showers at night, even in a hot climate, are preferable to cold. When you take a warm shower, similar to a toasty-warm bath, your body will try to cool itself off afterwards. That jump-starts the body’s natural bedtime physiological cooling process. While a cold shower may feel great at the moment, your body expend energy to get your body temp back up, thus waking you up. The exact opposite of what you want.
- Be strategic about where you stay. The first apartment my now-husband and I were in was on a low floor without good ventilation. We loved the apartment, but even in winter I was dying of heat every single day. By the end of the three months, he swore he’d never live with me again in an apartment without air conditioning. A year later we found a 15th floor apartment that gets ocean breezes and we are now equally likely to complain about the heat. In short: want to stay cool? Location, location, location.
- Cold beverages, not cold food. While the idea of a refreshing salad or cold melon soup may sound marvelous, you aren’t going to find it here. Due to a historical lack of refrigeration and current lack of potable water, Brazilians don’t really do cold foods. But they insist on icy cold beverages and they do eat ice cream.
- Carry a cloth. I know this sounds very old-ladyish, but when you have sweat dripping down your temples and are sporting a sweaty upper lip from doing nothing more than standing still, you’ll be glad you have it. Tuck it into the waistband of your shorts, put it on your purse or backpack. Just carry one because it’s honestly that or your shirt.
- Go to the mall. All of the shopping centers in Salvador are air conditioned. Go to the food court, get something to eat and drink, and escape the heat for a few hours. I rarely see people shopping at the local mall, but the food is always packed on the weekends with locals getting a respite from the heat.
- Tip for females: Undershorts are your friend. I love wearing skirts, but I hate chub rub. So, under my skirts and dresses I wear lightweight cotton shorts, similar to biking shorts or spanx, but comfortable. BodyGlide is another option, and I have a friend that swears by using deodorant for the same purpose, but I prefer the shorts. The Brazilian women that I know also use under-shorts — which doubles as protection when a gust of wind picks up your skirt!
What about air conditioning?
Large office buildings and some hotels/pousadas have air conditioning. I have also stayed in plenty of apartments that had air conditioning and through it all I’ve learned two very important things. First, air conditioning doesn’t always work very well, because, well, Brazil. And secondly, it’s expensive to run here — about $1 USD per hour. Yes, per HOUR. If you are renting an apartment in Salvador that has air conditioning, your rental terms probably state that you are responsible for electricity. So, renter beware.
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