January is high summer in Paraguay. As such very hot days are always expected.

This year however the heat has lasted unbroken for weeks rather than days. Weather that is extreme even for Paraguayan summer.

Temperatures every year at the height of summer rise above 40 degrees centigrade. Just like frost in the winter the maximums only last for a few days before passing. Often a large electrical storm will clear the air. The temperature drops by 10 or more degrees before slowly building again,

That however is not how 2022 has begun. The summer heat has risen as normal to about 40 degrees. Then however the rains have not come and so the temperature has continued to rise before reaching a plateau above 40 degrees.

That is not though the entirety of the heating. With humidity also rising and not being dissipated by the rain the temperature felt is several degrees higher. In excess of 45 degrees.

These conditions have now continued for more than two weeks with at least one more to come.

At these extreme temperatures Paraguay has become a very quite land. There is little traffic or movement on the streets as everyone who can stays indoors out of the sun.

From the vantage point of my country house I normally hear few sounds that are not those of nature. Now there is silence for days on end. People are nowhere to be seen and even the wildlife has sought somewhere to hide.

As the population struggles to go about their lives in the heat so to the wildlife suffers. Much as the birds and animals are native to the land the unrelenting heat puts pressure upon them also.

I put out food daily for the birds but there is little point in putting out water.

Firstly any standing water is an invitation for mosquitoes to breed. Obviously not a good idea. And secondly a small dish of water even left in the shade will soon become warm enough for a good cup of tea.

Beyond the fauna the flora is also having a hard time. The grasses and weeds in Paraguay are tough. Even they though need an occasional good soaking if they are to survive and thrive.

Now though the grass which should be thick and lush at this time of year is dry and little more than straw. Beside it even the toughest of the weeds are shriveling away to nothing.

Fields and gardens are parched. The toughest plants hanging on longest but nothing looking healthy.

For a Paraguayan country family that is a problem. Most households out in the countryside have a cow or two. Under normal circumstances there is plenty of pasture to go round. With the moisture gone the once lush grass is tough, dry and unappetizing to all but the most hungry of beasts.

It goes without saying that these conditions make life hard to for arable farmers. The best financed farms may have their irrigation systems but the rest have just a potentially poor harvest to look forward to. Small farms even in good years like those across the world make little more than enough to cover their costs.

Paraguay in these dry times has even changed colour. The vast fields of deep green have been replaced by ones of a lighter more desiccated green.

Away from the fields and pastures Paraguay has changed as well. Much of the roads are still earthen tracks. The drying of the land has altered them to.

Where once they formed solid road surfaces they are now filled in many places with deep soft sand. when the wind blows great clouds of sand and dust roll along the roads.

These winds to are very dry. From time to time they blow with great strength but they blow from the north. From the dry interior of the continent. As they pass they take with them any moisture that does remain.

A further problem with the dry heat is one that is more normally associated with winter. That is the dry season. Fire.

In many places across Paraguay fires are burning out of control;. Despite the threat of fines and even prison many of these are still started by man and not nature. Once grasslands start to burn the fire is almost unstoppable until fuel has been exhausted.

Even in the countryside well away from the pollution of the cities the sky is filled with haze. Smoke from fires blocking out the sunlight.

For now like everyone else my life has been forced to slow down.

The majority is spent outside where under a tree some shade can be found and the breeze caught.

Only at night do I head indoors and even then the humidity is far greater there than it is outside.

These extreme days will end. Everyone knows that. Probably with several days of electrical storms and heavy rains that will bring their own problems.

However as the world continues to warm up no one knows quite how hot places like Paraguay will become and how often summers like this one will occur.