The true heat in Dakar, the lead-up to the hottest months of September and October, has already begun. Dafa tang lool, it’s very hot today, people say. The change seems sudden, as if the cool of the winter months has suddenly burned away. The fly population in my house seems to have exploded overnight, and in the evenings I no longer need a cardigan or jacket. The sun bleaches the dusty sidewalks and flashes glare off the white sand at the Plage de Mermoz. Sweat pools in my clothes and the bright daylight blinds my eyes. My classmates and I munch on 500 CFA ice cream at the grocery store every day or buy cold bags of frozen yogurt at the local boutiks.
The greatest pleasure in the world might be, on the hottest of hot days, buying mandarins at a street fruit stand. Walking home, in the middle of the day when the sunlight sears the sidewalks and the streets, when the air stands utterly still in the heat, and peeling the little mandarins, the sweetest I’ve ever had, cool and juicy, tasting like candy.