The weather where I am
The punishing heat of an Abu Dhabi summer, the freezing cold of a Canadian winter – it’s almost enough to make you long for home, say this bunch of Irish emigrants
‘The locals thought I was lucky to be from Ireland where it rains all the time’
CATRIONA DOHERTY Abu Dhabi
I arrived here in the middle of August in 2009, and the heat hit me in the face as soon as I stepped off the plane. It was close to 50 degrees. I had chosen the hottest time of the year to come to one of the hottest places in the world.
After a while my lifestyle adapted. I would teach in the morning at the school where I worked, come home for a few hours to sleep in the afternoon, and stay up late at night.
It is more than 40 degrees here at the moment but I am now used to it. In the summer, you can’t walk anywhere because of the heat, so most people stay indoors with the air conditioning blasting. You can have everything from groceries to laundry delivered to your door.
People laugh about the “Abu Dhabi stone” but it is true – most people put on weight here because it is hard to keep active. I work as a journalist now but when I was teaching I had to wear the traditional black abaya to school. It was unbearably hot.
We only get five days of rain a year here on average, and we’ve had only one wet day in 2012. The locals love the rain, and crowd at the windows to look out at it. It rained once when I was teaching, and the students in the class ran outside and took off their shoes to jump and splash around in it. They thought I was lucky to be from Ireland where it rains all the time.
I don’t miss the rain, but I am looking forward to going back to Donegal for a visit in August to escape the heat.
‘Friends from home have threatened to unfriend me if I put up any more sunny pictures’
JOHN Ó’RÍORDÁN Toronto
A few weeks after I arrived here with my girlfriend in May last year, the area where I work just outside Toronto was hit by a tornado. I hopped into my Mazda3 and went tornado-chasing down the streets of Burlington. I realised it probably wasn’t the best idea when I felt the whole side of the car lift up, and had to seek shelter in an Irish bar until it passed. The wind can really pick up speed on the prairies, and that tornado pulled down trees.
The summers are amazing here. The air conditioning in our apartment block failed last week because everyone was running it at full throttle. It is 38 degrees now, and with the humidity it feels even hotter.
We went camping earlier in the summer when the weather was cool, and in a few weeks we’ll take a trip up to a friend’s cottage by the lakes. There’s a speedboat moored outside with jetskis, and a dock jutting out into the water that you can jump off when it gets too hot. It is idyllic.
When I came over first I wasn’t used to it being sunny all the time. I’d wake up at the weekend, sometimes hung over from the night before, and my Irish instinct would force me out of bed early to make the most of the sunshine while it lasted. But here it lasts and lasts. Some of my friends from home have threatened to unfriend me on Facebook if I put up any more sunny pictures or mention one more time how great the barbecues are by the lake.