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Mexico City has turned into a furnace — and there are few airconditioned places

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

For more than a week now, Mexico has been sizzling with daily highs in some places reaching 113 degrees. NPR's Eyder Peralta sends us this postcard from Mexico City, where temperatures have been hovering in the 90s.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Spanish).

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: This is not a city made for heat. We're at 7,349 feet above sea level. So the sun is hot, but the shade and the nights are almost always cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

PERALTA: But these last few weeks, Mexico City has turned into a furnace, and you can't really find respite. There are few air-conditioned places, so people here head to the water fountains.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Laughter).

PERALTA: Julio Cesar Mendez had just dunked his head into the water.

JULIO CESAR MENDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: "Now, imagine the subway," he says. "I've had sweat come out of places I never imagined." And sleep...

MENDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: "We sleep how God brought us into the world."

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER FLOWING)

PERALTA: Sometimes it's easy to forget we're in the tropics here, but this week, it's felt like "Faulkner's Mississippi," a dizzying, delirious experience. A lady I spoke to was afraid she would get malaria even though it doesn't exist here. It made me think that not far from this park, the ancient Aztecs used to sacrifice children so Tlaloc, the god of rain, would take mercy and cover the sun with rain clouds.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: Thankfully, these days, Mexicans just turn to aguas frescas, refreshing fruit juices. Maria Elena Cuatla Zacagua has been selling them here for 50 years, and she doesn't mind the heat.

MARIA ELENA CUATLA ZACAGUA: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: When it's cloudy, she says, sales slump. But when it's hot, business is also hot. Plus, she says, she worked the fields when she was young, and that was hard. All the complainers, she says, are just being big babies.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PERALTA: And maybe the universe heard her because suddenly a lazy summer day turns into a chance to dance, the heat be damned.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PERALTA: Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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