I got up a bit earlier than planned this morning. Had to… my guatero was dribbling!
If you’ve been following other Chile blogs, you already know that we’re all about trying to stay warm these days…
Abby @ Abby’s Line: “How to Survive a Chilean Winter”
Liz @ Eat Wine: “Chilly Chile”
While folks up north are wilting in the heat, we are popsicling away down here in the middle of winter. (Of course you already knew that Chile was in the southern hemisphere and that our seasons are opposite… you really did… right?)
Yesterday’s high temp was 14.5ºC (58ºF). Not bad for winter… What am I whining about, you ask?
This morning’s low was -1.2ºC (30ºF)…
Ah—an essential bit of missing information—most of us here do not have central heat. And… most homes are built to keep us nice and cool during our 8 months of hot, dry summery weather (for more about the climate, see Nerdy Stuff below). And that also means, ipso facto, that they show no mercy in the winter. They may protect you from the wind and rain, but the cold? Not so much… Without heat, there’s not a lot of difference between inside and outside temperatures.
We use stand-alone heating units during the day—electric, gas, kerosene—they come in all types, shapes, and sizes—but not at night. So for sleeping, it’s a matter of bundling up (a “polar” vest over warm pajamas works well) with lots of covers, a good snuggle partner, and the best thing of all, a guatero–hot water bottle– or two! Sure, some people prefer a “Scaldazono” (a type of electric mattress cover that heats the bed), but strangely the idea of sleeping on something that could potentially electrocute me doesn’t have a lot of appeal somehow.
I digress… getting back to the down-around-freezing-at-4-AM temps with no heat in the house. Now imagine getting up in the morning when it has dropped to who knows how many degrees below anyone’s possible comfort zone and we’re all building plenty of character. (Reminds me of going up to camp in the Adirondacks when I was a kid and it was so cold in the morning we didn’t want to get out from under all those heavy quilts to make that dash to the outhouse… but thankfully there is most assuredly no outhouse involved in this story!). Back to it… So now imagine waking up at 6 AM, shortly after the mercury has bottomed out for the day and is just starting to hoist itself back up the thermometer pole…and you slowly realize you’re wet, well, kind of soggy-damp from the stomach up (don’t be silly, I said UP).
Anyone who lives in Chile already knows where this is going, but I’ll spell it out for the rest of you: my once-beloved, hugged-it-to- my-chest-all-night hot water bottle stealthily, surreptitiously betrayed my soundly sleeping self as it oozed, trickled, and dribbled its normally soothing contents ever so slowly, one squishy warm droplet at a time, all night long…
Fortunately the water was still warm enough (and there wasn’t a lot of it) that I could get up and changed quickly before the ice cycles formed… got the bed stripped, everything dried off as best I could, but alas… there was no way I was getting back into that now-freezing and damp bed!
Lesson learned: guateros have a natural life span. Sometimes they come open, but this one just got worn out and developed a little hole near the neck. The dumb thing is that I THOUGHT I felt something hot last night and checked it, but didn’t find the problem, so I ignored it (won’t make THAT mistake again).
Winter night survival tip:
For those who grew up in the States, you may remember Heloise and her handy Household Hints (Turns out she’s still around! Check her out!). Here’s one of my all-time best Heloise-worthy tips for surviving the Chilean winter:
Going out? Tuck your freshly filled hot water bottle into your bed before you go out—better yet, wrap your pajamas in it and pop the whole bundle under the covers–that way when you get home to a freezing house late at night, you can jump into some toasty pjs and snuggle in ASAP!
What? Still not tired and you want more Guatero Talk?
Eileen at Bearshapedsphere had her say in Vieja Chica not long ago, and
the ever unabashed Annje, while talking about something else, got around to her true guatero feelings in Stoic Maxim.
And now, as promised, the Nerdy Stuff:
Nerdy Santiago Info:
Average High Winter Temp: 14.5ºC / 58ºF (July)
Average Low Winter Temp: 3.2ºC / 38ºF (July)
Average High Summer Temp: 29.4ºC / 85ºF (January)
Average Low Summer Temp: 12.4ºC / 54ºF (January)
Annual Precipitation: 312.5 mm (12.3 in)
Climate: Warm, temperate Mediterranean; rainfall concentrated in the winter months (June–August) and a prolonged dry season during the remainder of the year.
Altitude: 567 meters (1,860 feet) above sea level (average)
Location: 33º 27’ latitude south, 70º 42’ longitude west