Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Groundhog Month

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I’m cleaner these days than I’ve been in years. And my skin is wonderfully hydrated. Why? Because I find myself lingering for excessive amounts of time in the shower, the only warm escape from the constant chill in our apartment.

Cuenca is touted as the “land of eternal spring,” and I’ve written about this very subject for International Living. But July and August are the winter months here, and for the second July in a row the weather has been continuously and aggravatingly dismal.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not overcoat-wearing cold. However, we have no central heating and air conditioning (a blessing when it’s time to pay the utility bills each month). So when the sun refuses to shine day after day our place never gets a chance to warm up and retain a bit of warmth.

The temperature inside our home has pretty much fluctuated only between the low 60’s and high 50’s all month. As you’re reading this while enduring the sweltering summer heat you may be thinking, “That sounds pretty darned good to me!”

Trust me, it’s not.

Every day we wake up, throw open the curtain---and look out at the same gray overcast skies. We check the thermometer on Cynthia’s nightstand.

57 degrees. Oof---.

I get up, put on a heavy fleece bathrobe, and make coffee. Then I often crawl back under the covers for a while. After that long shower I dress quicker than a fireman being called to fight a blaze. On the worst evenings I roam around the house with the bathrobe over my clothes—and I’ve been known to don a toboggan cap as well.

We have a small electric space heater that I dragged around from room to room last July. But since my friend pointed out that the little beast eats as much power as 25 60 watt bulbs I’ve been a bit more judicious this year about firing it up.

As I’ve gotten older I have new-found appreciation of retirees who opt for the warmer climate of Florida, Nevada, and Arizona. My kids have nicknamed me “The Reptile” because of my increasing intolerance of weather extremes.

In my defense, people who live at altitude (Cuenca sits 8400 feet above sea level) develop thinner blood with more red blood cells to better oxygenate their bodies. So we experience temperature variations more severely than our coastal counterparts.

I’m not sharing all this information as a “bitch session.” It’s important for folks contemplating relocation here to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Presently it is a bit ugly.

I am not alone being uncomfortable with the current chilliness. Numerous expats have found Cuenca’s weather too cold and moved to lower altitudes.

In doing so they trade a cooler climate for the increased humidity and, worse, bugs that go hand in hand with warmer temps. Growing up in the South I’ve had more than my share of both, so the greater good for me is to pull on a sweatshirt and put up with this short dismal period.

And hope each morning when I open the curtain for the bright, warm sunshine that will eventually return.



Goose down comforters are good this time of year Edd and maybe some electric heaters. I love cold weather so I can get to wear coats, like in NY where I grew up, lol! We just got back from Orlando with the grandgirls and it was HOT...I guess I'm not made for so hot, so sunny and humid weather!

Donna B. McNicol said...

I'm hoping hubby can survive next winter in Cuenca. He found it chilly mornings/evenings during our April/May visit. I suspect we'll be investing in a propane heater. LOL!

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Sounds like a holiday on the coast is in order!

Edd Staton said...

We have a heated mattress pad that is a lifesaver! Peter, sadly the weather on the coast is pretty much the same as here. Maybe we'll take a cruise next July----.

bentparrot said...

Hey Edd, We left Texas after spending most of June in Ohio and Ontario. Nice, but a bit chilly. The Dallas area probably had the coldest 4th of July ever when it dipped into the fifties across the northern part of the Metroplex. But it was beautiful. Then the car thermometers started reading 103, 105, and 108. It was time to come home. We headed for a weekend in Houston, where it was 95/95. I didn't need a shower. I was living in a steam bath. Then back to Cuenca, where I sit with a warm hoodie, bundled up with the wife in an afghan, as we get ready to watch Netflix.

Ah, Cuenca. At least you don't have extremes.

Antonio Fiorentino said...

You took the words out of my mouth, I have lived in Cuenca over 2 months now and don't believe there was a day of full sunshine. I could join Mark Twain in saying: "the coldest winter I ever experienced is this summer in Cuenca". I am not as tolerant as some. Right now I long for a return to Loja-Vilcabamba. I have learned two things about Ecuador: stay away from Cuenca summer weather and don't choose to live above the groundlevel in Gringolandia.

Antonio Fiorentino Di Stefano