Friday, January 3, 2014
Perhaps a quick visit to Africa might be in order . . .
With a trembling in my bones, I've just realized that this weekend and early next week are going to be the coldest temperatures I've ever experienced in my life. I'm an African boy. I grew up used to summers with heat up to or exceeding 100° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius: sometimes rising as high as 120°/49°). Winters very seldom dropped to below freezing, and when they did, it was only by a few degrees, and not for long. Snow was a once-in-a-decade thing, and then only in a few cities. It would literally stop traffic, as everyone got out of their cars to catch the few falling flakes and marvel at it!
When I first came to North America, on a seven-month work-related visit in 1996, I landed in Toronto, Canada, in a snowstorm and sub-freezing temperatures. My sinuses instantly quit in protest, and for the next three weeks I was barely able to whimper at the chill. I spent several weeks in what was allegedly spring in Canada and the northern USA, with snow on the ground, ice not uncommon, and a frozen African body screaming with every fiber of its being, "Take me back to the Namib Desert!"
Since then I've experienced sub-freezing temperatures on quite a few occasions, along with snow and the occasional ice storm. The coldest I've ever known (and that only late some nights, for short periods while outside) is about 15°F/-9°C. However, Monday is forecast to get down to a maximum of 9°F/-13°C, and Monday night the mercury's supposed to fall as low as 3°F/-16°C. Up in Minneapolis, friends of ours will be facing a low of -19°F/-28°C. (One of them is scheduled to fly here on Monday. All I can say is, I hope they manage to break his plane loose from the ice floe so it can try to take off!)
In one of my favorite pubs in Swakopmund, on Namibia's coast at the lower edge of the Skeleton Coast, it'll be in the balmy 70's to 80's Fahrenheit over the weekend and into next week. It'll be twenty to thirty degrees hotter further north and inland. I think this is the perfect weekend for a visit there, and a nice cold Windhoek lager . . .