The sound of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas plays as the humid air and 30-degree heat mingle incongruously together. Living in an emerging nation at this time of year can be disorientating: far away from home, altogether different time zones – so much so, you have to do a Google search every time you want to make a phone call – and the feeling that it really should be bucketing down with rain or sleet outside.
I feel lucky, yet the hotels are emptying of international businesspeople and the friends you made have disappeared, hopped as they have onto transatlantic flights taking them home to loved ones.
‘The Holidays’ are oft renowned as a time of abundance: gifts, family and lavish displays of love and affection. But when you’re thousands of miles away in an emerging nation, there is little obvious sign of any of this and, instead, it is replaced with patent signs of poverty, from gritty streets to corrugated huts, and a clear sense of people just trying to get by.