Tuesday, July 8, 2014

African Adventures volume 8. Siberian South Africa

You can’t really complain about the weather in South Africa. No, most days the sun shines over the amazingly diverse landscape filling me with awe at the natural beauty of the place.
The houses however are a different story. I really think the South Africans could learn a thing or two from American building techniques.
It’s not that the houses aren’t beautiful, just woefully impractical. Made with heavy concrete, stone and brick, most of the houses are designed with no insulation. The thick walls, reminiscent of Adobe are fairly good at keeping the cool in. That’s great when it’s ninety degrees. The fact is that most days it isn’t.

Most of the time the temperature seems to fall in the 70’s 80’s in summertime and drop to the 50’s and 60’s in fall and winter. That all seems very pleasant until they have what they call a berg wind which is a hot dry wind that feels awesome, like warm weather is moving in but it actually means the opposite. A cold front usually follows that can last anywhere from a day to a week.
We are in the middle of one now. We stayed with Roger’s mom for a few days and the cold weather blew in and there was no respite. The tile floors were like ice blocks, the walls have air bricks. You know, like actual holes in the wall in which air comes in. You stare at it watching birds fly by outside wondering who thought that was a good idea?

Coupled with the fact that no one seems to have much in the way of heat, it’s weird. His mom has one little heater in the living room and I stood by it as much as I could. During the day it warmed up outside but the house was as cold as ever. I started to feel like Elsa from Frozen. Everything I touched seemed to be made of ice.

We’re home now and there is a second cold front assaulting us. It’s about 50 degrees I’d say and the sea is whipping furiously against the rocks. The wind is blowing with such force that when I tried to walk on the beach this morning I got pelted with sand until I was forced to run home.

So, that’s all fine. What’s the big deal you say? It gets much colder in America in winter. Yes, but in America we have central heating and insulation. Our little apartment by the sea has neither. I’m shivering as I type this. I can feel air currents moving around the house as if I was sitting outside.

I just got up to put a sweatshirt on over the layers I’m already wearing. As soon as I can get a ride to Hillcrest I’m buying a big-ass heater! The biggest I can fit into our apartment.

Cheers from chilly South Africa!
(Note the all tile floor. Ice cubes for your feet...)

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