Summer in the tropics: ‘BogHotá’ the oven that was once known as a fridge
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Summer in the tropics: ‘BogHotá’ the oven that was once known as a fridge

Bogotá, the Colombian capital, was previously given the nickname: the fridge. As a city that was permanently rainy and cloudy, where residents wrapped up scarfs and thick wool socks to avoid the bitter cold.

The ‘ruana’, the name of the local poncho that the people from the Cundinamarca and Boyacá regions used to don to combat the cold, remains with the moths in storage, locked away in Bogotanos’ wardrobes.

Nowadays, sunglasses, shorts and sandals, in addition to light coats or jackets are wardrobe staples as residents are aware that Bogotá has an almost desert-like climate: impressive daytime heat, but freezing cold after sunset. A cold that causes frosts at dawn, severely damaging crops. A far cry from times gone by, when city dwellers used to drink a hot cup of ‘aguapanela’ (warmed sugar cane in water) before going to bed.

The city’s lifestyle has also changed dramatically. Temperatures reached more than 10ºC above the previous average: 25,6ºC, a record. Bogotá was built and designed for colder weather, with most buildings lacking air conditioning devices. The city has also been plagued by pollution and smog in some areas, evidence that the greenhouse effect is even stronger.

“The solar radiation was close to 1.132 watts per square meter,” said Ómar Franco, head of the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) said, according to CMI.

Franco attributes the radiation levels to 4.500 meters above sea level, yet, Bogotá is located at 2.600 meters. The Ideam advises that people take care in the sun, suggesting generous use of sunscreen and avoid spending long periods outdoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“El Niño” grew up

This climate change has seen a much more exacerbated version of ‘El Niño’. Along with the rest of the region, Colombia has been experiencing droughts and side effects due to a severe lack of water. The government has insisted that households are careful with their water usage, prior to slapping on rationing measures.

In addition, the  irresponsible behavior of some individuals has resulted in forest fires on the eastern slopes of Colombia’s capital city. While in more rural areas, including the small town of Puerto Salgar, residents assumed that the world will soon end, Semana magazine published. There, some 200 kilometers from Bogotá, the thermometer reached 45ºC.

So after these hot few months, it seems that people in Bogotá can’t wait for the famous ‘aguas de marzo’ (march rains), or a much more wetter result; ‘abril, aguas mil’ (April showers).

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