Once of the things I enjoy about travelling is the opportunity it provides for one to experience extremes. Sometimes it’s deliberate; sometimes not so much. In any event, these experiences often stay with you and becomes the subject of comments such as “that’s the [insert adjective]-est I’ve ever been in my life.” Perhaps this will inspire you to tell some of your own “-est” moments or perhaps even remind you of some moments you’d rather forget. Or it may even give you an idea of some places you should probably avoid.
- The record for the HOTTEST place I have ever been was just taken out this year. Desert. 50 degrees Celsius. Death Valley. Need I say more? The air was so dry I felt like my skins was shriveling beneath the sun’s blaze. Every time we got out of the car I coated myself in sunscreen because it seemed like my body was just absorbing the moisture rather than having it act like a shield. The heat rebounded off the sand and slapped the back of my calves. I drank, and drank and drank… more and more water and barely needed to pee. And I was absolutely astounded at the other idiot tourists venturing a couple hundred metres away from their vehicles without water to take more selfies. Are you guys fricken serious??
- At the other end of the spectrum, until recently, the COLDEST place I had ever been was Chicago in December. The husband and I arrived mid-morning on the train from Buffalo dazzled by the snowflakes falling across the city. It was all very fairy-tale-like until I realised we weren’t actually that prepared for snow and my shitty shoes that I’d been walking in every day and night for 3 months were not at all sufficient to stop my feet from totally freezing. I absolutely thought my toes were going to fall off. Coldest place ever. Then, we went to Iceland. In winter. Never before had I been to a place where a balaclava would not at all have been overkill. The skin on my face and my entire ears ached and stung each time we got out of the car. I took to pulling my neckwarmer up to my nose so that the warmth of my breath would at least warm my cheeks. At least people were mostly dressed appropriately here – completely acceptable to wear ski pants even though you weren’t skiing. I guess that’s why it’s called Iceland, right…
- Continuing with the weather theme – humidity. A reminder: Malabo is on a tropical island on the equator. We live with humidity on a daily basis. Our apartment has 3 air cons, 1 of which is always on all day long. But, if you want proper humidity, visit Iguazu in Argentina – the MOST HUMID place I’ve ever been – closely followed by Vietnam. That’s proper humidity – 90% in 35 degree heat. Walking outside is like walking through soup. You sweat, and your clothes stay wet – like you’ve just been for a swim fully clothed. It was fucking hot – not Death Valley-hot but soppy-hot.
- I’m not a climber by any means. Despite all the hiking we do, I’m actually not good with heights – and I will avoid those hikes with dangerous drop-offs, sheer cliffs – basically anything with the ability to cause extreme vertigo. So, counting the “highest places I have ever been” is not really something important for me. But – I can tell you the HIGHEST place I have ever been – Mount Kilimanjaro – 5,895 metres elevation. The nice thing about Kilimanjaro is that you don’t need any climbing equipment to get to the top, and there are no scary drop-offs to deal with – at least not on the route that we took. It’s a walking mountain – you spend days acclimatizing as you slowly meander your way to the summit. And then you’re on the Roof of Africa. If you’re thinking about doing it – do it. It’s awesome. https://www.fromoztoeg.com/pole-pole/
- Iceland gets a second mention – for being the DARKEST place I’ve ever been. Four hours of pseudo-daylight, which is really like four hours of dusk or dawn, from 11.00am-3.00pm. And your day’s done. This more than likely contributes significantly to the fact that Iceland is also the coldest place I’ve ever been. I’m yet to experience the opposite of this effect – the midnight sun – but I can tell you that the darkness is something to behold. The sunrises & sunsets are stunning. And you will feel like you’re at the end of the world.
- I have to mention EG. Not the most humid place I’ve ever been – but definitely the WETTEST. There is a wet and a dry season – but sometimes it’s difficult to tell which is which. It rains a lot, just about every day. And the rain can be torrential. The compound roads flood with water – makes driving a golf cart around quite interesting I can tell you. On one particular occasion we were hanging out on the other side of the compound in rotator camp, and the rain decided to set in. I had been about to head home and decided (after a few beers admittedly) that I couldn’t wait for the rain to pass. So out I went, fully clothed in my mosquito repellent uniform of long skirt & singlet. I tried to jog a little, but my Birkenstocks were slipping on the wet. When I finally got home, it was as if I had jumped in the pool. My skin underneath my clothes was dripping and I had to wring the water out of my skirt. So yes, quite a wet place.
So there you have it. A few of my –est places.
Hottest, Coldest, Humidest, Highest, Darkest and of course, Wettest. And hopefully, many more -est’s to come!