Here’s an idea that doesn’t get nearly enough consideration in the development community: poor countries are poor because they’re hot.
Okay, I’m not going to try even a half-assed defense of that statement. I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of peer-reviewed articles that disprove the climate-development link, and that if I thought for four seconds about this I could come up with some examples of poor cold countries and rich hot ones. The thing is, though, I am not in much of a mood to write anything intellectual, because it’s too damn hot.
My Dad and I came to Coca on Saturday night. It’s been great to show him around, and realize how much more of a local I feel than when I first arrived: store owners greet us with “Where have you been?” and the boardwalk’s ice cream salesman offers me free popsicles. I had aspirations of achieving a few more interviews, too, in my limited time here, but one walk along mainstreet convinces me that such efforts are futile. In the current heatwave, people are just sort of collapsed on the sidewalk, nursing a beer or huddled around a desultory fan. When we enter a restaurant, the waiters peer up from the tables onto which they have nearly dissolved, as if to say, “Are you kidding?” No, no interviews today.
In Uganda, about one year ago, a farmer tried to convince me that the real problem in his country, as he put it, was that “It’s too hard to starve here.” In the tropics, you can just throw some seeds in the ground and, well, something is bound to grow, right? (Friends studying agricultural development, please see two paragraphs previous before you correct me.) And maybe there’s something to that; that I now have enough interviews to get by, to squeeze out a 30,000 word thesis, and maybe it isn’t worth flogging myself too much in my last week. I’d rather just find a place in the shade and watch the people as they… well, do nothing, actually.
Maybe Europeans really do control the world because we were cold and hungry, and felt some intense need to share our misery with the rest of the world. And all they wanted to do was sit around and drink cold chica on a hot day.