Keeping Cool on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia

In eight days, my parents will be here with me on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. While Wisconsin, where they’re coming from, is unseasonably warm right now, and while they are arriving during one of the mildest months of the year, they will still be confronted with a type of heat and sunshine that they haven’t seen in a very long time. For that reason, today I will provide some tricks for keeping cool.

an empty sunny plaza, with everyone hidden in the shadows

Stick to the shadows

The pictures above were taking outside of my school at mid-day. As you can see, the sunny plaza is empty (except that dog), while there are many mototaxi drivers and snack vendors sitting in the perimiter where the trees are casting shadows. Truly the difference between sitting in the sun and sitting in the shade can feel immense.

Know where the AC is

In my suburban town, my go-to spots when I need a blast of too-cold air are the grocery stores (there are two within walking distance, a luxury not many people have) and my school. My school isn’t totally air conditioned. No, no no. But a couple of rooms, like the teacher’s lounge, the offices, and the new English room, all have wonderful air conditioners.

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing

This took me an embarrassingly long time to grasp. For almost 15 months I was constantly wearing lightweight polyester. They were lightweight and see-through! They had to let air in, right?! WRONG. I finally bought a few different challis fabrics and had a local seamstress sew up some blouses for me. While I have pared down my clothing options considerably by no longer wearing those polyester numbers, I am much more comfortable.

Stay hydrated.


Know your (fan’s) best angle

I cannot claim to be a professional at this; I think it is purely by luck when I manage to set my fan in just the right spot that it hits the cross breeze from my window and blows air at me that is actually somewhat cool.

Learn to levitate. Or get a hammock.

The members of my host family are big-time afternoon nappers. I don’t understand how they do it. From 1-3pm when my room is an oven, laying on my bed just brings me into contact with something warm. I could totally afternoon nap if I knew how to levitate. That’d be amazing. Imagine the air flow around the whole body. One semi-decent alternative is a hammock set up outside next to a fan. Fan’s aren’t just for the indoors here.


women with umbrellas

Carry your shade with you

Inexplicably, this strategy is a very gendered one. I’m not sure how many men I have seen – if any – carrying umbrellas as a way to stay out of the sun. While I don’t think that this actually helps you stay cool (sorry for misleading you), I do think it’s a great way to protect your skin from that beating sun.

Just sweat it out.

Truthfully, when it’s hot here, it’s hot, and if you’re not a lucky city-dweller with endless air conditioning, you’re just going to be hot. Even if you are a city-dweller, sometimes the power goes out. Sweat it out and don’t let the heat get you down. This is more like advice for keeping cool inside.

About the author

Mountain View

A little about me!

Hey! I'm Brianna Hope, a born & bred midwesterner embarking on an adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. I am clumsy, I spill a lot, and I share most of my interests with 6 year-olds.

Follow me on Snapchat: alabrianna


The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.


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