Oh! Crap, summer is here. In matter of fact, June 21st will mark the first official day of the summer solstice, and <sarcasm>I couldn’t be any happier for summer’s arrival</sarcasm>. Whether you share my enthusiasm for the season’s annual visit or whether you’re like normal people, getting that swimming suit body you’ve been promising yourself since 1999, summer is here and we’re going to have to live with it. Amman in the summer is a completely different experience than any other season, buckle up and get ready, your guide to embracing summer is here.
In temperate regions such as ours, we notice that the sun is higher in the sky throughout the day and its rays strike earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call Summer. In the winter, just the opposite occurs: the sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at a tilted angle, creating the weak winter sunlight and the very few hours of sun that we experience in this country.
Amman, is home to the crossroads of two very distinct climates; the Mediterranean and the high altitude’s Cold Semi-Arid Climate. This causes the differences that we see in the capital between night and day, and winter and summer, often eradicating Spring and Autumn into a couple of weeks, at best.
As we approach different seasons, we, just like the earth, go through a cycle of moods, behaviour and physical changes. Our winters in Jordan are fairly cold and with our infamous heavy fog, its effects are vivid. In matter of fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an evident phenomena in this country. Those who suffer from seasonal depression, high pressure at work or overall the high stress levels from living in the city should take advantage of the sun and attempt to squeeze in a brief period of solar exposure, since sun rays are beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels, increasing the immune system, killing bad bacteria, improving skin conditions and curing depression.
For many people summer time brings about changes – the children are out of school, vacations are scheduled and you’ll most likely find yourself smoking hookah in a random café in Abdoon or Jabal Amman in the presence of hundreds of tourists and Jordanians alike.
For some, work slows down during these months. For others it may stay the same, but having the children home can add an extra layer of complexity. Things may not feel as predictable. While traveling is fun, and the idea that you’ll probably end up cruising Istanbul’s Taksim Meydanı for hours is relaxing and comforting, it isn’t unusual to return home more tired than before.
The longer and lazier days of summer may not be easy but your life will probably feel less chaotic. Even adults tend to adopt a “school’s out!” attitude in the summer. That’s why this is a perfect time to improve your health and your lifestyle.
- The first step to boost your health would be to improve your diet; give your body a berry boost. Have a cup of mixed fresh berries; blackberries, blueberries or strawberries, every day. They’ll help you load up on antioxidants, which may help prevent damage to tissues and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses in the long run. Blueberries and blackberries are especially antioxidant-rich. A big bonus: Berries are also one of the richest fruits in fibres, which helps keep cholesterol low and even boost your digestive system and metabolism.
- The second tip to have a happy summer is to control your stress level; living in Amman can be quite hectic and stressful sometimes, especially when dealing with the intense traffic, the gut-wrenching college entrance exams and the rising expenses. To improve your stress level, plant a small garden, cultivate a flower box or if space is really limited, plant a few flower pots, indoors or out. Placing your hands in soil is grounding, being mentally grounded can help relieve physical and mental stress.
- The third tip is to Floss, that’s right, floss. Flossing reduces your dental bacteria and thus your overall health; the decrease in the number of bacteria means one thing, your body is more capable of fighting off other diseases. Floss three to four times a week and you’re doing better than at least 85% of people.
- The fourth step is to find ways to beat the smog; it’s no secret that Amman is receiving more and more haze and smog episodes than it used to, due to the sudden increase in population and the rising car-culture. The winter fog of February is quickly replaced with the haze of July. Compared to the American Midwest’s summers where the scale is more-often-than-not tipping at 45 C° (or even more), the 30 C° Amman averages in the summer isn’t that problematic. The smog here, however, can make life a bit more difficult.
Although not as bad as that of Beijing and maybe slightly better than that of LA’s, the air quality of Amman can be problematic for those who have asthma.
If you’re blessed with a view of the Amman skyline like I am, learn this tip: if you can’t see the Jordan Gates because it’s behind a layer of smog, then it’s probably better to stay inside.
Every mall or major restaurant that I’ve been to offers clean and air-conditioned air (Hashem doesn’t count); attend those places when the episodes of air pollution are just too much to handle if you end up going out, and until you get used to it like the locals, do yourself a favour and do some indoor working out, which brings me to my next point…
- Exercise, this is probably the most important tip to enrich your summer, either join a nearby gym and get your cardio on a few times a week or walk. If you live in the western side of the city you’ll quickly realise how automobile dominant it is. Some of the most pedestrian-friendly areas of the entire Metro region are located within Central Amman, the old downtown (or City Centre as officially known), Jabal il Weibdeh (or Löweibeh as colloquially known) and Jabal Amman, (super special thanks to the city for destroying the Wakalāt St., the last pedestrian friendly zone in West Amman). If you’d rather do it with others it’s advisable to join the quite popular Fast Walk groups; they’re organised, safe and free.
Getting active in the city is an ideal thing to do in the summer; the possibilities are endless. You can join a Yoga group such as Amman Chakras Booster or One with Nature. You can try the Amman Bicycle Polo Club (that’s exactly as it sounds), join a local Ultimate Frisbee club or even dip your toes into the artistic and exotic Afro-Brazilian martial-arts/dancing of Capoeira offered via Capoeira Amman. These upcoming few months are a great excuse to give your mind, body and spirit a boost, Amman Style.
Meanwhile in Lweibdeh, Rick is accepting donations to fund his summer seasonal migration to the Norwegian section of the North Pole.