Most of you probably know that seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere and that Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere. So, while folks back in the US are celebrating the arrival of spring, fall is technically beginning here in Peru.

Seasons are not perfectly straightforward in Peru. It’s not as simple as being the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. In many places, there are just two seasons of note: rainy and dry. My coworkers in the mountainous region of Cotahuasi tell me that there is more snow on the mountaintops in the rainy season than in dry season even though the rainy season is technically summer. People in many places in Peru mess with the names of the seasons, calling the rainy season winter even though it falls in the summer of the Southern Hemisphere. That muddles the whole issue in my head! It’s not uncommon for someone to say, “It’s summer in Lima, but it’s winter in Cusco.” Visitors are often surprised to leave the heat of Lima in January and find themselves freezing in Cusco! In other words, knowing the name of the seasons here doesn’t always tell you what the weather will be!

So what do the seasons look like in Lima, a desert city with no rain whose temperatures stay between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round? The two noticeable seasons in Lima are summer and winter:

  • Summer: December to April when the lows are 64-72 degrees F (18-22 degrees C) and the highs are 75-84 degrees F (24-29 degrees C). The sun is out every day with very little cloud coverage. The humidity is high, so it feels more oppressive than the numbers reflect. Most homes are not air conditioned, so that makes hiding from the heat difficult as well. This is personally my least favorite season because the moment I leave my home, I am sweating profusely!
  • Winter: June to October when the lows are 54-61 degrees F (12-16 degrees C) and the highs are 61-66 degrees F (16-19 degrees C). The skies are completely gray nearly every day and there is a thick fog that hovers over the parts of the city along the coast. It’s even more humid in the winter, so these temperatures also feel worse than the numbers reflect. Many people are quite depressed in this time of year, but I’m personally thankful for the cooler temperatures. I love to be able to put on a sweater and be comfortable. I do not own a winter jacket, though many Limeños use heavy jackets in these months.

You may have noted that there are some missing months in those date ranges. Most folks do not label spring and fall in Peru because the weather is just not distinctive enough to call it a different season. Last year I remember thinking summer was never going to end and being miserable until July! While it’s true that the daytime is still quite hot right now (highs in the upper 70s), I sense that there is a fall this year. As I write this, I am wearing a hoodie since the breeze passing through my apartment has a chill in it. It makes me so happy since fall is my favorite season in North Carolina. The leaves won’t change color here, sadly, but the cool nights and mornings are really refreshing. I even cooked chili and cornbread for some friends on Friday night – good fall food, but it’s strange to do it in April!

I miss fall and I hope to be able to take my first home assignment during the fall of 2014. In the meantime, I’m learning to appreciate the glimmer of fall that I get to experience here in Lima. I hope those of you in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying Spring!