Nobody walks the sidewalks during the day in Dallas. Yesterday I met another traveler in the lobby of my hotel who had just come in from the 105 degree heat that hounds the parking lot and streets outside. I noticed he was dressed for running, he was dripping sweat. At first I thought he had been jogging, he had the look of someone who’d just put in some serious physical effort. “Hot enough for you”, I asked?
The jogger chest-heaved his breathless answer at me as if he were a marathon runner at the end of his trail. “I started running that way”, he pointed generally to the left exit from the hotel drive. “I only made it a block before I had to turn around”, he gasped. “Man”, he continued, “You don’t run during the day”. I wanted to say “No, Duh”, but he didn’t need my sarcasm.
We both knew he’d pulled a rookie mistake. Only ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ are found under the noon day sun. I am neither.Over the years I have learned to respect the tropic sun. I have paid my travel dues with the after effects of heat exposure long ago. Lesson one…’Don’t run in 40 degree temperature in the direct sunlight’….you can hurt yourself.
Dallas is a place where people are primarily ‘insiders’. Indoor activities are popular with the locals. Banquet halls, Shopping Malls, Office Buildings or any air conditioned exhibit are where you’ll find your average Texan.In this respect it is very much like Asia where people have developed a social culture around the modern institution of air-conditioning. And just like most of the tropical world people generally are not to be found in the open, neither for business or pleasure. The heat is unhealthy. It is normal to drive your vehicle everywhere here in Texas, even if the distance traveled is a single block.
Since I have been here I have not seen another jogger during the peak daylight hours aside from the one I’ve already described. Nor have I seen a single bicycler, roller skater, skate boarder or itinerant stroller come out until after 4 PM in the afternoon when the sun is cooled. Like a lot of hot climates Dallas is lively in the hours before sunrise and the hours after sunset.
Sunset is almost ritualistic. I watched as people began to come outdoors, tentative at first, as if testing the heat with their tongues. The event happens quickly, it’s the only time of the day when you can look at the sun without consequence.
to be cont’d