If you already know the meaning of ‘relative humidity’* you won’t need to refer to the paragraphs at the end of this post, either way I don’t think you will really need it, but it’s there just in case. All I know for certain is, everything is relative. My four days and five nights in Darwin were, relatively miserable, temperature-wise and humidity-wise–but otherwise, it was a good break, if by ‘good break’ you mean makes you really appreciate being home again.
I decided some weeks ago to accompany my mostly sensible husband to Darwin while he participated in the NT Golf Open. I think he would agree with me in saying he didn’t actually compete, because competing would be another relative thing, as compared to endure, I suppose. Let’s just say he was not in the hunt for top honours. He did finish in front of a handful of players out of the 200+ field so I suppose that is something. And more’s the pity, he did not even enjoy it. But I’m sure the next time he considers going to Darwin to play golf, the experience will immediately bring him to his senses. If not, he will have me to remind him, for which I’m sure he will be, not so much grateful as, annoyed.
My plan was to catch up with friends. That was all. We usually stay in the city (small though it is) of Darwin, but this trip we decided to try a ‘boutique motel’ and hire a car. It was
small, very small, but perfectly formed, save the very hard mattress; but good air conditioning and that was most important. Wipe that romantic notion about ceiling fans and mosquito nets being adequate in the tropics from your mind’s eye. That is just wrong.
The suburb of Parap offers several cafés, restaurants, a gourmet food shop, a couple of gift shops and a gallery and a couple of other options, and a Saturday morning market that has always been a favourite, going way back to our days of living in Darwin. We saw the very first few stalls begin to trade about 30 years ago and it has steadily grown into a Darwin institution. Sadly, there is little food from the market I am able to eat these days, but wandering through at 7.30am, humidity at 93% and temperature at 26C (79F) was still worth it to grab a few photos.
It was great to catch up with old friends and compare war stories. None of us escapes the ‘stuff’. Just as none of us will get out of this alive. We swap wisdom and compare treatments, catch up on our children and travels and before you know it the afternoon has slipped away. And at the end of the visit we always agree, we are relatively good. Lots of people we know are worse. Perhaps we are a tiny bit delusional too.
We managed to take in a wonderful exhibition by paper artist, Winsome Jobling; and also to fit in a walk along the East Point foreshore, looking back at the city through Poinciana trees that have yet to gain their leaves and flowers because they have yet to get the dry season weather needed for that. It was hard work for me in the morning humidity. Later in the day I was ‘at one’ with that aforementioned hard mattress in the air conditioned motel room.
To complain about the weather does nothing to improve it, but it was good to know it wasn’t only this desert dweller that was feeling the distress of extreme humidity where dry breezes should have been flowing. The locals were even feeling it.
I gave up drinking hot coffee in preference to iced coffees, had two showers a day and had to hand wash undies and clothes because I forgot the ‘sweat factor’ of the top end when packing for a time when the dry season is not yet in full swing.
We often remark that travel makes us appreciate home more, and this trip was especially true in that respect. But I wasn’t expecting what happened at the end. I arrived home and stepped off the plane onto the tarmac (there are no air bridges at Alice Springs airport) into a morning, post rain showers, where the humidity was exactly 93%, as it had been most of the mornings in Darwin, except that the temperature was 16C (60F), ten degrees below the Darwin temps in the early mornings. It felt glorious! And that, my friends, is the perfect illustration of relative humidity. As if blazoned on a neon sign atop the airport terminal it dawned on me, yet again, the wisdom of those three words ‘everything is relative’.
(*Here is what Uncle Wikipedia says about relative humidity...“Humans are sensitive to humidity because the human body uses evaporative cooling, enabled by perspiration, as the primary mechanism to rid itself of waste heat. Perspiration evaporates from the skin more slowly under humid conditions than under arid conditions. Because humans perceive a low rate of heat transfer from the body to be equivalent to a higher air temperature, the body experiences greater distress of waste heat burden at high humidity than at lower humidity, given equal temperatures.
For example, if the air temperature is 24 °C (75 °F) and the relative humidity is zero percent, then the air temperature feels like 21 °C (69 °F). If the relative humidity is 100 percent at the same air temperature, then it feels like 27 °C (80 °F). In other words, if the air is 24 °C (75 °F) and contains saturated water vapor, then the human body cools itself at the same rate as it would if it were 27 °C (80 °F) and dry. The heat index and the humidex are indices that reflect the combined effect of temperature and humidity on the cooling effect of the atmosphere on the human body.”)