What to expect here in San Luis Capital

Hey guys, it’s Marsha! I heard you are new in town… been there & done that. So I’ve got stuff to tell you in regards with San Luis’ wacky weather!!!

Keep reading. You’ll thank me later 😉

As a Canadian expat, I had some adjusting to do when I moved to San Luis. I never thought my adjustment to the geographical change would be so fascinating. I have divided  this info by category and will describe my personal discoveries -or battles- for each.

Let’s begin with the basic information:

  • Altitude: 1,850m
  • Average Temperature: 17.9 °C
  • Lowest Temperature: -8°C
  • Highest Temperature: 35°C
  • Average Rainfall: 341 mm
  • Rainiest Month: June and July
  •  Dryest Month: February

THE ELEVATION

San Luis’ Potosi  (capital) has an elevation of 1,850m.  I came from a city with an elevation of 98m so it was a big change. We’ve all taken science class but it’s funny how we never really put that knowledge into consideration while completing every day tasks.

MY “FITNESS”

As a nature and sports enthusiast I have always considered myself as a relatively “fit” person. My arrival in SLP made me think twice.  A short climb up the stairs, ten minutes into my tennis match, or a short time into a brisk walk; I was completely out of breath with my heart pounding . After a little bit of investigating,  I realized that my body was responding due to a lack of oxygen related to the elevation.  I also found out that many high-performance athletes come to San Luis Potosi in order to “altitude train”. (Michael Phelps is one of those athletes).

Interesting note:  The study of altitude training got a lot of attention after the 1968 Olympics, which took place in Mexico City where the elevation is 2,240 metres. It was during these Olympic Games that endurance events saw significant below-record finishes. 

MY COOKING/BAKING

I love pasta. Boiling pasta is a simple, quick task, right? Well, I suppose “quick” is relative. I remember the first time I filled my pot with water and put it on high flame to boil. I left it to continue chopping veggies for a salad. After a while, I returned to the pot and thought “why is this taking so darn long?” I needed a trip back to BASIC SCIENCE 101:

With increased elevation, atmospheric pressure decreases and water boils at lower temperatures. At sea level, water boils at 212 °F. With each 500-feet increase in elevation, the boiling point of water is lowered by just under 1 °F. Because water boils at a lower temperature, foods that are prepared by boiling or simmering will cook at a lower temperature, and it will take longer to cook.

Note taken. The same adjustments need to be made while I am baking. It makes following recipes a little tricky because I cannot trust the “bake times”. It has been a lesson of ‘trial and error’ and end products being either burnt or not cooked inside.

THE TEMPERATURE

The weather/temperature can fluctuate a lot here in SLP. Depending on the sun, if you’re inside our outside, your choice of clothing and/or if there are temperature-regulating systems in the building; you basically have to be prepared for anything.

MY WARDROBE 

In Canada, I had one smallish closet which worked just fine. In the winter, it was filled with pants, sweaters, jackets , boots and scarves. During those months, my tank-tops, t-shirts, summer dresses, swimsuits, shorts and sandals were packed away in empty suitcases. When it got warmer in the spring, I switched. Out came my “summer clothes” and my “winter clothes” went into hiding. When I arrived in SLP, I learned in a short time that such categories for my clothes don’t really exist and that I needed quick access to EVERYTHING!! (AND I want a massive walk-in closet).

Here is what a typical day may look like in September/October:

Wake up – put on pants, socks, shoes, long-sleeved shirt, sweater, scarf and jacket . Apply sunblock.

  • Lunch time– take off scarf, possibly take off sweater, consider putting on a t-shirt
  • Afternoon – put on a T-shirt (if I’m lucky enough to have brought one)
  • Evening –  put on sweater again and scarf again and prepare a nice hot drink
  • Repeat.

MY SKIN

There is a great misconception that it is ALWAYS cold in Canada. Not true. June, July and August months can bring temperatures as high as 35-38c (95-100F). During those months we are very accustomed to layering on the sunblock to avoid burning.

Here is SLP the sun is ALWAYS strong!!! It was so strange for me to consider putting on sunblock, getting out of the shower while I was shivering and my teeth chattering . During the colder months you may feel quite cool in the shade. However, once you step into the sun, you can FEEL the rays changing the color of your skin from pasty white (in my case) to hot pink in matter of minutes.

NOTE: I STRONGLY recommend  using sunblock DAILY! There are many specialty stores here in SLP which ONLY sell skin products. They offer a range of high-quality (sometimes expensive) skin products.  And DON’T FORGET  your lips and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

TEMPERATURE IN MY HOME

Typically, homes here NOT have central heating or cooling systems. Wall-installed air conditioners could be present in individual rooms to keep them comfortable for sleeping during very hot seasons. It is more common to use smaller appliances to control temperature.

I personally own:

  • 2 space heaters – One has a handy timer function and I usually turn it on for one hour just to heat my bedroom before falling asleep.
  • 3 plug-in fans – these keep the air circulating as the rooms with large windows often get hot with the sun and the darker rooms remain cool.
  • ZERO air conditioners – I don’t find that the weather gets hot enough to use an air conditioner. The buildings are typically constructed with cement and tiled floors so in general they stay cool.

 

THE PRECIPITATION

Rainy season in SLP is typically from May to September. But this is an average. When it rains. It RAINS!! Torrential downpours, flooding the streets, sometimes with hail. Once I saw hail the size of golf balls and many people’s cars suffered damage to their vehicles.

It’s not all bad though… I LOVE watching lightning! If you are lucky to live in one of the higher areas in the city with a clear view of the mountains you can have the treat to watch the amazing light shows. Crazy storms that roll through quickly also often bring rainbows. And who doesn’t love rainbows??

THE DUST

We are in a dessert. Desserts are dry. It’s dusty. I remember my obsession with sweeping daily when I first arrived. Sometimes you just gotta let it go. Now, I chose a really good cleaning once a week. My lovely cleaning lady has my home perfectly clean every Saturday. And if I’m lucky, she makes me chilaquiles 😉

IN SUMMARY:

1. You’re not out of shape. Just wait for your body to adjust.

2. Be prepared for some surprises in the kitchen.

3. Go for a big closet as you may need a broad range of clothing throughout the year.

4. Protect your skin year-round!

5. Be prepared to invest in some appliances to keep you comfortable.

5. Bring an umbrella.

6. A little bit of dust won’t kill you.

 

 

So you’ve been warned, guys!

Until next time.

Marsha, MEXMOVER