Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's Just That Cold

People often have the mistaken impression that living in South America means living in warm tropical weather year-round.

In some cases, that may be true. In Chile, however, it all depends on which part of the country you call home - the desert to the north, or the cold and rainy islands to the south. And in the central valley where we currently reside, it all depends on the season (winter, spring, summer or fall) just like it does in the United States - except, of course, that our seasons are reversed.

So how cold is it? The best example I can give is that of my brother-in-law, who was raised in the rugged mountains of Montana (and proud of it.) On a bad day, he insists that Chile is the coldest place in the world. (If not Chile, then certainly his house is - and personally, I can vouch for that!) The reason it feels so cold here is not the actual temperature as much as it is how the cold settles into your bones. Central heat is nonexistent, and space heaters can only do so much good (and can't be left on during the night for safety reasons.)

Sometimes I sit in a church service and chuckle at how odd we would probably look to our American counterparts who hang their coats and scarves at the door. In our churches here in Chile, most people do not remove their coats all winter long, and scarves are much more than just a fashion accessory. Between Sunday School and church, hot tea and coffee is served and fulfills the dual purpose of warming our insides as well as our frozen fingers.

The other day, I commented to Pedro that one way to describe how cold it is, is to point out that I, the queen of bare feet, will go through an entire day in winter without once removing my lined boots. Not only that, but at night I don my thick fleece pajamas and then put a thick fleece robe on top of that - and sometimes I sleep in both! The rule of thumb is layering - for instance, Owen usually wears his pajama tops and bottoms under his pants and shirt (and sweater and jacket) when he goes out during the winter.

Still, we have been blessed with a newer house and registers in many of the rooms (although we try to use them sparingly due to the cost.) It's not like it was the "old days" when I was a kid - when I could test the temperature of a new morning by simply breathing out into the air of my bedroom and seeing if a steam cloud would form there! Because sometimes, yes ... It's just that cold!


daniel said...

It is cold down here. Makes one wish that they were in Iquique. It is very common for us to see steam proceeding from our mouths as if we were some kind of locamotive. So we use lots of layers as you mentioned. And try to keep moving a lot.

CLC said...

I agree. I have never been colder physically. I'll be better prepared next time.