The World’s Most Perfect Climate

Nairobi city on a typically beautiful day

A photo I took of Nairobi city on a typically beautiful day

Imagine if you could design your ideal climate. What would it be like? For me, it would be like this: Partly cloudy and mid-70’s °F (low 20’s °C) nearly every day of the year. Beautiful blue skies. The warmest days accompanied by a nice breeze. Cool evenings, but never cold. Very little humidity. And just when things get a little too dry, a rainy season begins. But it is short, and the showers come and go delicately.

That is perfection. And lucky for me, I have just described Nairobi. National Geographic once said Nairobi has the world’s “most perfect climate” and I can’t help but agree. People back in the U.S.A. often ask me what the weather is like here, and most of them assume it is beastly hot and harsh. I made the same assumption because Nairobi is very near to the equator, but because of the city’s elevation (5,889 feet or 1,795 metres above sea level), extreme weather conditions are prevented. I have yet to enter a building with air conditioning or heat, simply because there is no need for either.

I have tried to explain to my Kenyan friends the type of weather I experienced growing up in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the weather in Minnesota cannot be adequately understood unless you experience it for yourself, but I will try to explain it in mere words. Winter is cold. According to Wikipedia (and my own life experience) “temperatures as low as −60 °F (−51 °C) have occurred during Minnesota winters.” Those are extreme cases, but temperatures regularly hit 0 °F (−18 °C). Imagine this: if you wash your hair and venture outside before it is completely dry, it freezes and becomes hard instantly. The boogars freeze inside your nose. Your body parts literally go numb because they are so cold. School gets cancelled some days because kids could actually DIE waiting for their busses to arrive. Then there is snow, which can pile up so high you can’t even open your front door; and freezing rain, which makes you fall on your butt when you try to walk. And the worst part…winter can last for a solid six months of the year! Springtime bursts with life as the snow melts, but can cause major flooding. Summers are lovely, though very hot and humid, causing regular droughts. Autumn is vibrant and colorful as leaves change colors and the air turns cold once again, giving way to violent thunderstorms and tornados. In Minnesota, you can never predict the weather.

The funny thing is, if you ask most Kenyans, they will not describe Nairobi’s weather like I have described it at the beginning of this post. They might talk about the extreme heat of January (80 °F, 26 °C) and the freezing cold nights in July (60 °F, 15 °C). They might say things like, “The weather in Nairobi is so unpredictable!” or “I’m sure you’ve never experienced heat like this in the U.S.!” But hey, if you grew up in the world’s most perfect climate, wouldn’t you react this way too? I would!

For the record, I have almost completely lost my Minnesota “thick skin.” Like my fellow Kenyans, now 60 degrees feels dreadfully cold and 80 feels painfully hot. That could be very problematic when I return to Minnesota…


8 thoughts on “The World’s Most Perfect Climate

  1. Well, Alissa, how appropriate to read your essay about the climate over there when here the temp is now at 3 degrees, and a windchill of 15 below. BUT we are “promised” 30 degree days by a week from today. The sky is blue, the sun is shining — so all we can say is “it could be worse – much worse.” Jo and I are thankful for a good furnace and a blazing fireplace. The care start, the roads are clear, life goes on here on the Frozen Tundra — so we are thankful. That’s my weather report for today. I love you, Alissa. from Grandma P.

    • Thanks for the weather report, Grandma! I do love the change of seasons in MN, but I am happy to leave the cold behind. Glad you are keeping warm by the fire. Love you too.

  2. Great Article. I remember very vividly the Minnesota climate you’ve well described. I felt that I had to dash out of there before I die, and I am glad I did, landing in San Diego, CA which has the best climate tin the USA.

  3. Yes, I remember the air from the minute I stepped off the plane in Nairobi on January 1, 2001. It was this very pleasant, perfectly sweet warm air that I stepped into right off the plane. No need for a jet way like in Minnesota. Thanks for the pleasant warm thoughts on such a cold day.

  4. hello Alissa, your report makes me feel homesick. i am in Germany and lets just say that snow only looks nice when you are indoors looking out but its not the best of climates. Thanks for the weather report, looking forward for the sunny climate when i go back home :) .

  5. Alissa, I have read with great interest your blogs. I’m a Mom who is doing some research for my daughter, a junior in college, and she is trying to put together a 9-month trip to Africa, beginning next fall. She really wants to go to Kenya and study Swahili as well as local customs and cultural norms. I just can’t find anything that seems to fit the bill. She’s been around the world more than once and she’;s been to S Africa and Swaziland, so it’s not totally new to her. Would it be possible for you to contact me via e-mail and pass on the name of the Swahili school (or the school at which you are studying Swahili) or nay contacts whatsoever? I am kimanjo at gmail dot com. Thank you so much and God bless. Kim

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