The temperature has been hovering around a low of 0-4 degrees Celsius and a high of 10-20 for the past few days. It was 0 today when I went to school around 8am and there was frost on the ground. That’s decently cold day for most people in the US [by which I mean I don’t want to get into a dual about who lives in a colder state my northern brethren]. The cold here isn’t terrible by itself, what makes living with it difficult is the fact that none of the homes or buildings have central heating. Its an extreme luxury to even have a window heating unit. Small space heaters are pretty affordable, but they won’t heat a large room. Also, many homes don’t have enough electricity to run one. If I’m using the iron at the house in J.A., we have to turn off all but one of the lights in the house, especially if the tv is on.
Another issue is that the houses are usually made of a single layer of bricks or some sort of adobe like material; there isn’t any insulation. During the day, the temperature inside the house is often lower than outside depending on the wind. At night the temperature may be a few degrees warmer. This makes showering extremely painful. I get fully dressed in the bathroom, coat, socks, and shoes included, at a record pace. At least on the weekend I can wait until lunch, my hair probably still will be damp by the time I go to bed, but it is better than hypothermia.
To help combat the saturating cold, I wear pants every day *gasp…Yes I know. This is the most consecutive days that I haven’t worn a skirt, probably since I was about 7. Actually, because I’m always wearing at least 2 jackets at all times, I wear the same 2-4 shirts all of the time because no one ever sees them. Heck some days, I can hardly remember what shirt I used the day before. Teresa Moment: Teresa pointed to some woman on tv playing a school administrator of some sort in ridiculously low cut shirt with matching tie to cover her cleavage/sexy secretaryesque outfit and asked me if I ever wear anything feminine like her. Feminine, yes…if she only knew about my skirt addition… However feminine ‘like her’…No, not even on a warm Halloween night on 6th street in Austin. Nahaniri. I will admit that with my large pea coat over a slightly smaller coat over a light sweater over a shirt, that I look like I’m taking fashion tips from the female lead in the move Once. I’m not sporting a particularly flattering look, but heck, who am I trying to impress, I’m only here for 3 more weeks. I’d rather be warm and be appreciated for my great personality than be little miss sexy pants and freeze my nalgas off.
At night I’ve adopted the habit of sitting on top of my bed to work at night on my computer. With the help of the adaptor box on the power cable of my laptop [a poor man’s space heater]and my own body heat, I’m able to create a pocket of warmth in the blankets and sleeping bag before I have to climb in. Otherwise the inside of my bag feels like its lined with razor blades. I go to bed between 8:30-9:30pm because fighting the cold takes too much effort and my sleeping bag, 3 layers of blankets, and 2 thickest jackets on top of the blankets are just so much more inviting.
Actually I’ve found that many of the techniques I learned while camping during the winter months and that one very special spring break in the snow in Utah are really useful here. Paraguay is like car-camping, but indoors. Who knew I was actually training to be an urban camper.
PS: Paraguayans do not go out in the cold. If there is an activity planned and its cold, chances are most people won’t show. Same thing goes for rain.
One year down the road - A while ago I promised some accounting, and then never followed through. Sorry for the delay. For the four or five of you who read this, here you go. I rec...
3 years ago