I knew a cold front was coming. For once, the weather app on my phone was fairly accurate. A week and a half ago, I saw that the temperatures were going to plunge below zero (celsius) again this week. I was just hoping the forecast would change. The forecast is never right, so why would I count on it this time. Denial, I know.
However, during the day Monday, the winds picked up. Sand was flying and the bitter wind pierced through my Colombia fleece like it was a cotton tshirt. I saw on an SA news website that they were promising a country-wide, end-of-winter cold snap, with highs of 10C or lower. Most days in the winter, it would warm up to the mid-teens or twenties, so when I saw the 9C high predicted for Tuesday, I gulped and accepted that it would be a horrible day.
Monday night it started getting cold. I setup my heater on a chair, so that it would blow directly on me while in bed. I gulped tea and burrowed under the blankets, fearing the next day and wondering if I could call in sick. I slipped into a pair of long johns, snuggled down into my sleeping bag+liner combo that has been a lifesaver, and threw a comforter on top of that, knowing I would wake up cold if I didn’t.
Despite all that, I woke up several times, COLD, in the middle of the night. I had a thick blanket underneath me that I could have thrown over me, but I would have had to get out of the sleeping bag cocoon, which I did NOT want to do. So I kept burrowing deeper into my sleeping bag, and tried to sleep.
I woke up around 6am, and the air inside my room was frigid, colder than it had been for several weeks. It felt like the inside of a walk-in fridge. Heck, it was a walk-in fridge. I stuck my arm out of my sleeping bag, turned on the heater, and pointed it directly at my face, and laid there for about half an hour, wondering if coffee and breakfast were really necessary today.
At about half past, I bravely unzipped my bag and scurried across my room, doing my “cold dance” and grabbing a fleece blanket to tie around me, my hat, scarf, and coat before making coffee. I made my coffee and French toast (fancy for a school morning), then rushed back to perch in front of the heater while reading my Bible.
A little while later, I grabbed my nicest set of long johns, shirt, jeans, knee socks, hat, scarf, gloves, and 2 coats, thinking about the awful-cold walk to school. I kept noticing that I could see my breath-inside my room. That’s just awful. It would be like living in a garage in winter in America. Not quite, because the garage probably has better insulation.
Anyways, I took a deep breath and headed out the door for the half-mile walk to school. About a second later I realized that even with all the layers and two coats, I was already freezing. But I also realized there’s not a whole lot I could do about it. So I hurried off to school, keeping my head down to avoid getting a faceful of sand.
Winter is harsh here because there’s really no escape from the cold. Yeah, I can dress in many layers, and I’ve got a good blanket-heater-hot water bottle set up at home. But it’s a lot of work to keep warm, and one step outside or a gap in the blankets, and the cold rushes in. I’m well-off by village standards, because I have a study house, good clothes, a heater, and many blankets. Most people in my village don’t, and I can only imagine how cold they were this morning.