Monday, January 20, 2014

Shivering in Guate

Okay Wisconsinites…go ahead, shame me all you will.  I can’t bite my tongue any longer. 
I shivered my way through my first week back with my students in Guatemala this January, and last week as well.

Go ahead, say it.  Tell me how two weeks ago you in the Midwest saw high temperatures of -15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Tell me how your lows were in the negative fifties.  Ask me how I can complain in my tropical climate and give me that smug “Central America has made you soft” look. 
I can take it.

But hear me out first.

I’m willing to bet that last week, if you went out into the cold at all, it was bundled up in a winter parka, hat, scarf, books, and mittens.  I’m willing to bet you didn’t stay out very long, and when you came inside, it was to a heated building where you could shed most of your layers and remain comfortable. 

I know you’d kill for the 50 degree weather we had last week.  I realize if you hit a 50 degree day, you’d shed your coats and don flip flops and shorts and go out for a walk to the park. 

But I’m betting that even on that first 50 degree day of spring, you wouldn’t head outside in shorts, find the shadiest spot you could find, and sit there for the entire day.  No, you’d probably find a patch of sun and spend a little time there, then head back inside, where it would be a good 10-20 degrees warmer. 

When it’s 50 degrees in Guatemala, I don’t have that option.  None of the buildings are heated.  So that means a 50 degree morning outside equals perhaps a 55 degree (maybe 60) morning inside, too.  My classroom has one complete wall of windows.  Windows, I might add, which have about a 1 inch gap between them and the ceiling where fresh air squeezes in, no matter whether the windows and doors are closed or not.  So last Tuesday,  I sat shivering, wishing for some fingerless gloves and a more substantial sweater, watching the thermometer on my weather app creep from 51 to 55, and finally to 60—but not until about noon, 5 hours into my teaching day. 

Okay.  My complaints are done.  You may resume your contempt for me and my plight.  It’s getting a little warmer here again.  It was 55 before I even left my house this morning.  My students are still wearing 2 sweatshirts to school, though…so it must not be all that warm yet. 

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