April is the hottest month of the year in Nicaragua. The sun is relentless, rising early and thoroughly baking everything it touches. Some nights my thermometer is still pushing 90 degrees at 1:00 am, and by noon I have to use a potholder to move a frying pan from the drying rack to the stove because the metal is too hot to touch. The rains have long since disappeared and will not come back to bring relief until sometime in May. In the river only a web of little channels still flow and hills that were once luscious and green are now dull and gray. Everyone seems to be resigned to the heat and the lack of water, but the straw that really makes the camel groan and say, “Really? Anything else you'd like to add?” is the dust.
To be fair, the dust that is now the source of everyone's complaints will, in three months, become the mud that is the source of everyone's complaints. Maybe it is just a trouble-maker in general, the younger brother of the dirt that makes crops grow and is molded into adobe bricks and built into houses. Regardless, It is on everyone's nerves. It is in their house. It cover's their clothes as they dry on barbed-wire fences and turns nicely shined shoes fuzzy looking slippers. When they walk along the road it is in their eyes and their mouths. Quite frankly it simply has no respect for personal space and it is EVERYWHERE.
In addition to getting into every chink and every crack of every house, the dust works hard to hold onto its place in the forefront of every mind. Each morning, just before dawn, it lifts in clouds so that as the sun rises it casts an ominous red glow out across the Segovian hills. Similarly, every evening the last rays of light are orange jets diffused across millions of particles hanging in the air, final reminder of what tomorrow will bring. That part is actually kind of cool...
(Postscript: The mountains of Nueva Segovia are a comparatively cool region within Nicaragua. I take this time to express my sympathy and offer my hammock to any poor volunteer who finds his/herself in the blast-furnace that is Managua, Chinandega, or the RAAS. -JGM)