This morning in New Jersey is gray and wet, with a low-slung sky overhead. It is deep spring now: the azaleas and rhododendrons are popping out their flowers, the smell of mulch is in the air, and all sorts of tree junk is falling like rain over the porch furniture, coating everything in a pale green dust. Daily now, the temperature creeps steadily upward and soon, suddenly, we will find ourselves in the midst of summer, running the AC and fantasizing about winter. At least, I will.
In the global south, of course, they are just entering the fall and winter months. While we are contem- plating heat and humidity, people in Bolivia are watching the temperatures drop. For those of us traveling there, it means we lose a big chunk of summer, exchanging the Jersey heat for the crisp, cool air of a Bolivian winter.
In Cochabamba it never gets particularly cold, nor does the weather vary a great deal from one day to the next. But, like people everywhere, Bolivians talk constantly about the weather. Every day people will remark to one another "Que frio!", hugging themselves with a mock shiver to indicate how cold it is. I always laugh, and tease people that they don't know what cold is, having never lived through a winter in the Northeast. It hasn't snowed in Cochabamba in years, but sometimes it does in the mountains that ring the city. On waking in the morning, I throw open the curtains and look toward the north, at the white-crested peaks enclosing the town in their frosty grip.