Got Any Lip Balm? The Realities of Desert Life

Although my home is lush, and green, and beautiful I cannot say we are blessed with particularly perfect weather. Northern Virginia has lovingly been described as swampy on more than one occasion. In the summer, you leave the house in the middle of the day and you are lucky to last more than five minutes before melting into a puddle of sweat. The humidity makes the hot hotter and the cold colder.

The weather here is almost perfect. At least so far. Currently it is winter, although it seems like we change seasons during the course of a day. When I wake up, it is difficult to get out of my bed and into the chilly air. It is usually in the 50s, although I think it feels colder, so I wear my gloves and a wool hat in the morning on my walk to school.

By midday, I am shedding my zip up and rolling up my sleeves because summer has arrived. It is 80 degrees and sunny (it is always perfectly sunny), and I have to make sure I have my ballcap and sunglasses ready for action. Come November, when it is summer in the desert and the heat becomes more intense I might be singing a different tune. But right now, when the locals complain about it being so hot all I can do is laugh as I remember my beloved humid home.

But moving to one of the driest spots on earth has had its unexpected challenges. My poor sensitive skin is adamantly opposed to my new location. The locals take one look at my pale gringa skin and immediately inform me “necesitas mucho bloqueador” … “you need a lot of sunscreen.”

I should also probably be bathing in lotion considering how dry my skin has become. My lips protest the arid desert air on the daily. They are constantly chapped and flaking, despite the seemingly endless amounts of lip balm I use. I have suffered more than one nosebleed during my time here, and am anxiously awaiting more. But that is how it goes in a place where it never rains. In fact, one of the teachers told me that it rained once, like two years ago, and they had to close the school for ten days.


Like Iceland (I bet you didn’t see THAT comparison coming), there are few trees around to block the breezes so the wind can get pretty wild as well. The combination of sun and wind creates quite the pleasant atmosphere, and I enjoy relaxing outside. I can often be found sitting on the front porch enjoying the fresh air, listening to the wind, and watching whatever neighbors and wildlife come and go. I am visited by many birds and I am trying to befriend a lizard that hangs around, although the most common animal I have seen around here are stray dogs (stray dogs that must love to party all night long, as they are always barking). With a cup of tea in hand, I will sit and listen to podcasts, read… or write my blog posts. Here’s to many more!




3 thoughts on “Got Any Lip Balm? The Realities of Desert Life

  1. I had some of the same problems while riding in the northwest. It was arid and, thanks to my bike, I had a constant wind. My lips took a real beating. (Burt’s Bees to the rescue.) And when the locals complained about the humidity I just shook my head. It was quite a shock to come home to the DC swamp.


    1. OMG Everyone here complains about how hot it is and I’m like, yo. I’m still wearing pants and a sweater and feeling fine. Sure it is warm, but let me tell you about how disgusting my home gets.


      1. You are missing insanely crummy weather. After weeks of sauna, a thunderstorm broke the heat wave. (I think Amanda probably wants to kill me for encouraging her to bike to work.)

        The rains continue and now we are about to get hit by a gigantic hurricane. PANIC!!!

        I can’t really complain. I had awesome weather for a month during my bike tour.

        I am getting FOMOed to death. Your posts and pictures are great. My friend Alan is a terrific photographer currently traipsing around Rennes en France. Linel is in Lisbon, my favorite big city on earth, taking pix of all the tiles and old buildings and the castle.



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