On the day I left Lima after living in Peru for nearly a year, the sky was an opaque whitewash, an expressionless expanse of slate gray that seemed to make the cement buildings blend seamlessly with the horizon. Except for a few brief moments where the strong equatorial sun managed to break through the thick ashen blanket of clouds that was draped over the city, I had pretty much been living in a perpetual fog for the last five months. Limeños have a name for this oppressive weather condition – La Garua.
Even though I’d read about La Garua during my research prior to moving to Lima, I’d brushed it off, thinking that it couldn’t be any worse than the dreary summer skies I’d grown up with in California. I was wrong. Along the coast of California, residents regularly contend with “June Gloom,” a weather pattern caused by the formation of stratus clouds along the Pacific coastline. At its worst, though, June Gloom starts to clear up toward the end of July, with exceptional weather and wave conditions occurring in August, September and October, making it a particularly pleasant time to be a surfer in California. Lima is different. Even though the city is technically located in a subtropical desert region, its proximity to the ocean leads to consistently mild temperatures, with a persistent drizzle and overcast sky that can sometimes stretch from late-May until early December. And wouldn’t it be my luck that the year I decide to move to Lima, the city has its coldest, dampest winter in 30 years.