There are a few quirks to mile high living. I covered the zombie skin we get in Jo’burg’s crackling dry winter months in the post High Altitude, Dry Altitude, but there are are other things about life on the Highveld that you might be interested to know about.
In addition to zombie skin, dehydration is something to watch out for. Unlike more humid climates where you find that your sweat glands have sweat glands, the dehydration here is stealthy. Because your sweat evaporates so effortlessly (rather than running down your back or into your eyes) you probably won’t realise how much moisture you’re losing. Dehydration IS very real though, so be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you are enjoying any of the local wines or craft beers. If you don’t, you will look AND feel like a zombie.
It might also be worth investing a couple of humidifiers for your bedroom to help with the dry skin problem and to protect any valuable wooden furniture from cracking. A alternative is to fill saucers with water and place them under your furniture.
Johannesburg will Shock You
…and I’m not talking about crime or poverty. You may be shocked by another effect of the dry altitude – literally. Because the air is so dry up here, there is far more static electricity. You probably won’t notice it during the summer months when it often rains, but in winter the air is bone dry. Winter is when you are most prone zombie skin, terrible hangovers and multiple daily jolts of electricity. Opening the car door is quite hazardous – it shocks me nearly every time.
Technically we are not high up enough to get actual altitude sickness, however, you might feel a bit off during your first couple of days here if you’ve come from sea level. If you’ve just flown long haul you could mistake the mild effects of altitude for jet lag.
Because the atmospheric pressure is different you may need to adjust your cooking times. They say a watched pot never boils, well on the Highveld it’s truer. At sea level it takes 3 minutes 29 seconds to boil a medium, room temperature egg. At 1753m above sea level (Jo’burg’s altitude), it takes 4 minutes 22 seconds – almost a minute longer! You can find out how long it should take to boil an egg wherever you are HERE.
The sun is strong up here. Sunscreen and shades are your friends.
…So, basically, when you first arrive here, take note of the above or you will end up as a dehydrated, sunburnt, slightly tired and/or nauseous zombie doomed to wait for eternity (well a bit longer than usual) for your boiled egg breakfast.
These are the quirks of mile high living that I’ve come across. Let me know if I’ve missed any.