My father, who previous to my birth had served as a global worker in the Philippines, was at heart an efficiency expert. If there was a way to cut waste or to make things work better, he would come up with it. He knew that fans work best pulling air rather than pushing it. Up in the third-story bedrooms we four children occupied in Knoxville, Tennessee (the former servants’ quarters), the fans hummed all summer long on the windowsill, pulling cooler air up from the basement, through the first and second floors.
All of which is to explain why I am sitting in coastal Nicaragua, in the hot tropics, in relative comfort. “Hmmm…if we just had some kind of mesh over the windows…,” I wished out loud as we moved in our two 9’x 8’ rooms, each opening onto a lovely shady patio where mosquitoes abound.
My dear husband went right out and purchased $3.50 worth of fine mesh fabric (tulle) and installed it on the outside of the bars that frame the windows. Now, as I write, our pedestal fan is positioned to blow out. As it does so, the cooler night air is pouring in through the other half of the window.
After sunrise tomorrow the windows will be shut, our foam beach boogie boards and assorted large cushioned mail envelopes will be placed against the glass to ward off the sun and heat, and the curtain closed. Voila′…air conditioning!
All who step in from the 90° temperatures throughout the day marvel. “You only have a fan, not an air conditioner?” they comment on the obvious, craning their heads around to see for sure.
“Yes, see how the Lord has provided for us,” we respond. “This is how we do it.”
All in the household admire our new ‘screen’ windows.
“So, you don’t have any mosquitoes in your room?” I suspect, however, that when they see our night-time exhaust-fan arrangement they are convinced that we gringos are completely loco. They can see that the moving air is causing the ornamental plants outside in the patio to dip and sway. How crazy is that?! But then, perhaps…