If it is 31 oC at 3:15 am at Erbil airport when my plane landed, it is never going to be cool during the day. By noon the land was baking, and so am I, and no rain is forecast until November.
Both taps in the shower provide hot water: the cold water tank is of course on the roof absorbing the sun’s rays, and the hot water tank inside keeps a constant heat with a thermostat.
Strategies are obviously going to be needed to survive in this challenging climate – and some creative thinking. For the shower this is to reverse the tap use: turn off the thermostat and use the cold tap for hot water.
By mid-afternoon it begins to get clouds and a hot dry wind springs up, unpleasantly reminiscent of being inside a hairdryer. Now the world has turned yellow, sand is flying around, and I stay firmly indoors.
Traditional clothing here is of course adapted to the harsh environment and covers the whole body, including the head. For men this translates as loose baggy sleeved shirt and loose baggy trousers caught at wrist and ankle in a close fitting cuff, a long length of coloured cloth defines the waist. The sun’s intense rays on the head are countered by an intricately knotted headscarf.
These days many young modern Kurds have discarded this practical garb for T-shirts, shiny drainpipe trousers and shoes with long pointy toes – and eschew any headgear.
This being a conservative country for women, especially outside of the cities,
respectable dress is the loose fitting black abaiya with headcover their heads. Undeniably this does protect from direct contact with the sun, but black absorbs heat. The result must be horribly uncomfortable in summer, though presumably warm enough in the winter.
Unsurprisingly shopping malls and coffee shops, with their cool air-conditioned environments, have thriving business. These malls though are expensive, but window-shopping provides a cool diversion for those fasting for Ramadan without cash.