Friday, December 11, 2009

A (Very) Cold Day

Monday it was -30 degrees Celsius, so school was canceled for grades 1-9. This is because it's so cold on the street that it's dangerous for the children to travel, and also because the heating system in the school isn't good enough to actually get the school warm. The trouble is, there's no infrastructure in place to inform the students that there's no school, so my host siblings both went to school anyway. I also tried to go, but the bus didn't come. I ride a special bus, that takes kids from a boarding house where they live during the school week straight to the school, rather than the (very unreliable) public bus. Of course, since the bus is only for students going to school, it wasn't running that day. But I didn't know that. Stepping out of my apartment building at 8am, I noticed that my face was a lot colder than usual, and my snot froze instantly. But since it's been around -2 for the past two weeks, I figured it couldn't be that much colder, maybe -10 or so, and I started to get worried about when it got even colder. By the time I reached the bus stop 10 minutes later, my face and, strangely enough, knees were frozen. After waiting until long after the bus should have come, I finally gave up and trooped home. My host mother called the school director and only then did I discover that school had been canceled. Actually, even though classes were canceled, teachers were still expected to come to work, but the director made special dispensation for me. I think I've told enough people that it never snows in Oregon that they all feel sorry for me and think I'm going to die, or at least get terribly sick, as soon as I walk outside. Then my host mother had to call all of the students in her homeroom class and tell them that school was canceled. How they would have found out if I hadn't stood outside in -30, waiting for the bus for 20 minutes, I'm not sure.

Actually, other than my knees, I was pleasantly surprised with my first encounter with -30 degrees. Sure, I was cold, and I'm not looking forward to when the winds come in February, because they always make everything feel much colder. Nonetheless, I didn't die and didn't even realize it was as cold as it was. It's probably a very good thing I didn't watch the weather report.

With an unforeseen free day, I spent my time writing this blog, doing laundry (this is a 2 or 3 hour intensive task) and making “tacos.” It's kind of an insult to the Mexican people that I call my creation tacos, but I really did my best. There's nothing remotely resembling a tortilla here, and all of the chips are potato chips with this strange “chicken” flavor on them, so my choices for carb were bread or potatoes. I went with mashed potatoes, and spooned seasoned hamburger, fried onions and some strange-tasting cheese over top of them. I think the hamburger was actually lamb, or else really freezer burned, because it tasted funny. The pumpkin pie I made the night before was much more successful. I think I'll stick to desserts.

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