Friday, January 20, 2012


The cold has set in. Now being a Minnesota girl, I should be used to cold, but as I may have said before, this is a completely different kind of cold. You not only have the cold outside, you have it inside and sometimes the inside cold is worse than the outside cold. You are cold when you wake up, cold when you go to work, cold when you shower, cold when you cook, cold when you go to sleep, you’re just cold 24/7. I have become very familiar with the site of seeing my breath inside my house on a regular basis. Earlier this week I stayed at another volunteer’s house and everyone kept asking why I would dare stay at Jason’s because its so cold (his place is too open so he doesn’t even attempt to heat it because his heater would do nothing- I hopped around his house in my sleeping bag). While there, I was definitely cold and told him I think his place beat mine out for coldness. However, I got home, after being gone for almost a week, and changed my statement. I came home to frozen pipes in my entire house and my toilet bowl being filled with solid ice, despite my landlady having come and built a fire at least once. I called my landlady to fix the situation because I was going to have to get creative about my bathroom needs if the problem wasn’t solved. She came with a few friends and in an hour they had it unfrozen. The process involved jamming a stick around in the toilet,  boiling water and dumping it in the toilet, placing a heater on a plastic basket with the extension cord running through a pool of water on the floor and telling me to leave it on all night, and then telling me to leave the water running in my place all night, flush the toilet every half hour or so, and keep switching the pots of hot water from under my kitchen sink (those pipes were still frozen when they left and the solution was try to heat them with steam from the water below). Yet another interesting experience in this country. And don’t worry, I didn’t leave that heater running as it was all night, or running at all for that matter. As soon as they left, that situation was resolved because I didn’t feel like the solution to frozen pipes was starting a fire in my house. The pipes have frozen outside of my house a few times since then; I have water, then I suddenly don’t. I believe the question “Am I going to have to pee in my yard facing my neighbours?” has crossed my mind about 6 or 7 times since Tuesday.

The ice sitting at the bottom of my frozen toilet.

Yup, can't use this right now.
I start my fire every morning and it burns all day. Theoretically the room its in should be warm, however when I got to bed in there, I wear about 8 layers on top, two on the bottom, three pairs on socks- 2 pairs SmartWool, my hat, and I curl up in my “warm to 20-degrees” down sleeping bag with a thick blanket doubled up on top and, you guessed it, I am still cold. My landlady told me yesterday the weather will be like this until the end of April probably. You better believe that made me excited. I guess I can’t complain too much since this weekend was the first time I have had snow and ice in my town. The temperature has been hovering around -13 Fahrenheit at night the last few nights. We were supposed to start school back up from the break this Friday (tomorrow), however, due to the cold, the Ministry of Education cancelled school and we will start on Monday, which probably makes more sense because as every teacher knows, not a lot would be accomplished on Friday. Now this isn’t an “Arkansas got a ½ centimeter of snow we need to cancel school” situation- I can see their point in that the schools haven’t really been heated since the end of December and it would take a whole lot of wood to get them even slightly warm just for one day- it doesn’t really make sense.

The cold/snow/ice even took one of our PCVs this past weekend in Vevchani (another post for another time). Vevchani is a village built on a hill. We were all slipping and sliding around because of the ice, and many of us took minor tumbles (the bump on the back of my head is almost gone!). However, while trying to escape the craziness and head back to Prilep, one of the volunteers, Lync, slipped and didn’t end up quite so lucky. He ended up in a taxi headed to the hospital in Skopje where he found out his humorous bone was split completely in two and sometimes he could, “feel them [the two pieces] dancing with each other”. After a few days in the hospital, he was medivaced on a flight with one of the Peace Corps drivers bound for Washington D.C. for surgery and rehab before hopefully coming back to finish out his service. He has 45 days to get better or else he is medically separated, however, knowing Lync, he will be back in no time. If the pictures below don’t give you an idea of what kind of character Lync is, one of the things Lync commented on most was the fact that in the shuffle of the weekend, he lost his toothbrush.


1 comment:

  1. Well written, Sara! I enjoy your writing style. Granted, I do not live near your extreme weather pattern, but I am only a few kilometers south of Jason and I now feel embarrassed about my apartment by comparison with your and his situations that I must rethink my plan for posting photos or mentioning that the warmth from the surrounding apartments allows me to keep my apartment heater set on medium and the blower is rarely needed. Kudos to you for maintaining your wonderful spirit.
    - PS - The security word for posting these comments is "woonsine." Is that something associated with northern Minnesota?