Friday, October 3, 2008

Drinking to Beat the Heat

Wow, it was HOT yesterday! I spent most of the day working on replacing the shelves in our bedroom closet. Termites made Swiss cheese of the old ones :/ Normally we can watch out for termites in the house and catch them before they get very far. But this happened while we were away in Canada. Nothing made of wood is safe in Burkina!

Anyway, as I was saying, it sure was hot yesterday. When outside, I was constantly moving into the shade. Direct sunlight was brutal and something to be avoided at all costs! Inside the house was okay so long at I was near a fan or air-conditioner. At one point, however, I was wedged into the closet, trying to fit a shelf (non-linear walls and odd-shaped right angles mean custom-fitting is imperative). There was no circulation in there at all, and within seconds I was soaked in sweat and dripping over everything. Whew! Was I ever glad to get out of there! My first stop after that? You bet it was the refrigerator for a cold drink!

We drink a lot more here in Burkina than we ever do in Canada. Not just because we’re thirsty more often, but also to avoid dehydration, a condition that can sneak up on you and clobber you before you even know what hit you! Because of the heat, we’re constantly losing body fluids through evaporation, whether we’re aware of it or not. Sweat and thirst are two helpful indicators. That’s easy. What’s dangerous is that sometimes these fluids evaporate without us being aware of it at all. On hot, dry, breezy days, body fluids don’t even have a chance to form as sweat on the skin before they’re carried off. And sometimes, you’re not even thirsty. But unless you want to feel like you got hit by a truck in a couple of hours, accompanied by nausea and vomiting, you’d better be gulping some fluids to replace what you’re losing!

The challenge is “What to drink?” One obvious option is water, definitely filtered, and preferably cold from the fridge. Kathy likes that. I don’t. I crave something with flavour. So my options are bottled soft drinks (only The Real Thing and related Fanta products in Burkina; Coke has a monopoly here :), beer, juice, or drink mixes. Well, I do drink my fair share of Coke and Fanta, but after a while I start to find them too sweet and too fizzy to drink in large quantities. Beer is less sweet and less fizzy, but more expensive and has some negative effects when taken in sufficiently large quantities to avoid dehydration that discourage me from going down that road! Juice is really expensive.

So that leaves drink mixes, like Kool-Aid. These are cheap, taste good, and can be quaffed in large quantities. The only problem is that they’re not available here in Burkina. Due to the country’s European colonial heritage, the stores here import bottles of flavoured syrup. Oh, yes, there are some packaged drink mixes here, but most leave a lot to be desired when it comes to variety and taste!

We did bring a few packages of Kool-Aid us, but they’re rapidly running out. If anyone is inclined to help replenish our supply, whether of Kool-Aid, Hawaiian Punch, or whatever else is good, it would be much appreciated! Several small packages can be slipped into an envelope and sent to Burkina for the price of an overseas stamp. Standard flavours like grape and orange are appreciated, but anyone sending more exotic flavours will receive an extra blessing :)


Aaron said...

While the local drink mixes may be nothing to write home about, I think certain flavours can be an acquired taste!
In Cameroon they had Foster Clark's drink mixes everywhere. Sure they taste inside-out (for lack of a better word), but I found that I could appreciate a couple of the flavours. One that took me by surprise, for better or worse, was their melon flavoured drink. It tasted almost EXACTLY like the cantaloupe/honeydew bubble tea that I used to drink when I was studying at McMaster.. And to think-- Those things cost upwards of six bucks canadian! Foster Clarks was around 20 cents a litre.. that's about 1/11th the price of gas!

Mike Steinborn said...

Yes, I'm getting used to a lemon-flavoured syrup drink mix here, but still miss Kool-Aid and other powdered mixes. No Foster Clarks, though :/

When we first came in 1997, after drinking just water for a few weeks, I finally found some small packages of powdered drink mix. They tasted awful, but at least provided some of the flavour I was desperate for!