CHAMORRO WOMEN IN 1902.
90 degrees but heads wrapped tightly in case of sereno!
This is a fictional work, "written" by a fictional statesider new to Guam.
I never feared the cool air. Until I came to Guam. Only then did I discover that the cool air can kill you.
I was only two weeks on Guam, moving here from Arizona, when I came into my landlady's house after mowing the lawn, both on her side of the property and on my side, where I was renting an annex.
She always welcomed me into her kitchen whenever I wanted, and since I was sweating profusely, I wanted a nice cold glass of her famous lemonade.
But instead of a warm welcome when I walked into her kitchen, she looked at me with an expression of horror and told me, "Get out of this kitchen! Can't you feel the air con????"
I said, "Yes! It feels good!"
"No, no, no," she said. "Sus Maria! Do you want to get sick? Go back outside and dry off for awhile. Then you can come inside."
Thus began my island education about the evils of cool air.
Do you have a cold? You probably got wet in the rain and walked into an air conditioned room.
Do you have a fever? Close the windows, turn off the AC, wrap yourself in woolen blankets and sweat it out. You kill a fever with heat. The last thing you want is cool air.
Do you have high blood pressure? High cholesterol? Back pain? A tooth ache? You must have walked into cool air.
Some days later, I had to get up at 4AM so I could pick up a coworker arriving at the airport. I was surprised to see my landlady already up as well.
"See you later," I said, "I'm off to the airport!"
"Not like that!" she replied. "It's sereno! You're gonna get sick if you don't cover your head." She gave me a hanky and I put it on my head. "At least when you're out of the car, cover your head till the sun comes up. Especially with your hair wet! You must have just showered."
Driving to the airport, I thought how blissfully ignorant we statesiders are about the dangers of the damp morning air. Sereno, as she said.
A few months later, I was getting out of my car when the heavens opened up and, out of nowhere, it rained cats and dogs. Unprepared for the unexpected rain, I got completely drenched. My landlady saw this happen, and saw me walk into my air conditioned annex.
The following day, she asked, "You're not sick? I saw you get soaking wet and walk into the air con."
"No," I said, "I'm perfectly fine."
"It must be your white genes," she said.
"I must be a sereno-proof statesider," I said with a bit of sarcasm.
Then last night, she called me on my cell phone.
"You didn't go to work today. Your car was here all day. Are you OK?" she asked.
"I'll live, but I think I have a 24 hour bug," I said.
Right away she said, "And knowing you, it will last exactly 24 hours. You're from the States."