“The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” Revisited — and a Few Questions
by Bridgett Schön
Placencia is a narrow peninsula that stretches barely a mile off the mainland of Belize in the southern Stann Creek district (see map at right). There is a narrow road that comes in from the north (from the mainland), but the road isn’t paved for its entirety, and it is an especially tough go in the wind and rain. The most time-efficient ways into Placencia are by boat (from Independence) or by plane.
Anyway, Placencia is like much of Belize (which is largely rural, except for a few large towns and a plethora of modest villages) in that it lacks extensive infrastructure. There is no underground sewage system in the town; there are only septic tanks which must be pumped out two to four times a year, depending on size and usage. There are electricity and telephone lines, but their reliability is subject to the whims of weather and the rather shaky power grid.
The saving grace is the lack of severe temperature fluctuations. Temperatures along the coast seldom fall outside the 75° to 90°F range, so there is little need for supplemental heat. Most people can easily tolerate the natural warmth, and ocean breezes help to cool things at night.
To make a long story short, the people of Placencia generally don’t use air conditioning, because it’s too expensive, it would be too big a draw on the power grid, and because they’ve learned to live without it.
It makes me wonder what we could learn to live without, and what we’ll soon have to learn to live without.