I was cold in the Caribbean

One of the first things we did when we found out we’re moving to Cochrane was to check out the temperature there. (From what I understood, Northern Ontario can get a little chilly.)

That day, it was minus 28 degrees Celsius in the town – minus 42 with the wind chill. That is a temperature that I have a hard time even imagining, never mind surviving. I had – and still have – no idea what to do in that kind of cold, but luckily, we will get there in the spring and have a few months to figure it out before winter hits.

That same day, we checked the temperature in Grand Cayman, since we were headed there on a cruise a week later. It was plus 32 degrees Celsius – plus 41 with the humidity.  (That’s right; 30 degrees of difference in latitude translates to an 80 degree difference in temperature.) Although I’m also not quite equipped to deal with that kind of heat, I figured it would be a welcome distraction from thinking about the alternative.

Warmth

So there we were, just over a week after we found out my husband was going off the police college in the New Year, heading off on a week-long cruise to four Caribbean Islands. I was thrilled to pack shorts, tank tops, and dresses, since I don’t expect to fit into my regular warm weather clothing this summer (I hear babies can alter bodies a little bit).

(As a side note, we also had to make the decision in that week that the cruise was going to be our honeymoon. It was a trip that was booked months earlier – before we were even engaged. My husband’s family was going on their regular Christmas vacation cruise, and they invited me along.

We got engaged a couple months later and decided to get married quickly, in case he got the call for police college [that turned out to be a great idea], leaving the cruise just over a month after the wedding. We didn’t want to plan a wedding and a trip in three months, so we figured we’d wait until the spring and do a vacation then.

And then the police college call came. Spring was going to be a little busier than we had anticipated.

We learned that his siblings had put a bet on whether we would en up calling the trip our honeymoon. My brother-in-law got a free pina colada out of my sister-in-law after he overheard us conceding that we probably wouldn’t do anything else in the coming months that might be considered a honeymoon.)

Once we arrived in Florida, where we got on board, I vowed not to even look at my pants or jacket for the next seven days.

As it turns out, that was a mistake.

What didn’t occur to me as I was packing my bag was that the ship would come equipped with air conditioning. And that it would be in use. Constantly.

Not only that, but water was exclusively served filled to the brim with ice cubes.

It got to the point that after every meal, I took a walk around on a deck somewhere so that I could stop shivering – not exactly what I’d expected when I packed my bags.

Still, I didn’t feel too bad about myself. After all, air conditioning is not the natural climate of the Caribbean. It was okay to be cold when I was constantly surrounded by cold air, I figured. Heck, it was my perpetually-warm husband who suggested finding one of the blankets that was stowed away to add to our bed on the second night – he’d been a little cool on night one.

On the last night, though, things got a little extreme.

After dinner – and, of course, the mandatory post-dinner walk around the outside of the ship to warm up – we joined my in-laws in their room for a nightcap. Before I knew it, the shivering was back with a vengeance. My husband dug a duvet out from under the bed and handed it over to me, but even after a good few minutes wrapped up all snug, I still felt cold.

It was time to make a bold move.

Still swaddled in the cover, I moseyed out onto the balcony. I plopped myself down on a chair and settled in to what I was sure would be my ticket to comfort. Thank goodness we were not in view of land – I’m sure anyone with a telescope would have found the sight of me off-putting, if not sad.

Balcony

It was sad. Thirty minutes later, I was still cold.

All I could think was, “If I’m cold in the Caribbean, how am I going to last in Cochrane?”

When we landed back in what I consider normal winter weather the following day, I was determined to rewire my brain. It wasn’t cold, it was refreshing. I wouldn’t be shivering, I’d be fluttering with excitement. To help the thought process along, I made sure to get a bit sweaty walking through the airport. As my in-laws walked along the moving side walks, I hustled to keep up on the non-moving variety. Oh, was that an escalator? Too bad, I ran up the stairs instead.

Needless to say, I got a little sweaty.

And, unbelievably, my plan worked. When that first burst of minus eight air made its way to my face, it felt genuinely refreshing. As we made our way outside, I was surprised to find I enjoyed the temperature change. Even as we left the parking garage, freeing ourselves from the warm fumes of idling taxis and shuttle vans, it was kind of… well… nice. I liked the cold. And it wasn’t a one-day thing – my new perspective seems to be relatively permanent, so far.

I’m not going to pretend I haven’t been cold in the five days since our return – I absolutely have. But when I get myself all bundled and head out on a walk with the dogs, I do my mental preparation. Refreshing, I remind myself. Fluttering with excitement.

I really got a chance to put the new strategy to the test yesterday, as the temperature plummeted to minus 23 with the wind chill. I got my three layers of clothing on, added my goofy oversized hat, and laced up my boots. Two leashed dogs later, and we were out the door. And you know what? It was still pretty refreshing.

Fifteen minutes into the walk, I was amazed how cool but comfortable I was. Sure, it was only halfway as cold as it can get in Cochrane, but I was making progress. Maybe Cochrane won’t be so bad.

It was about that time that I noticed that Stella had started limping – the ground was too cold for her. We headed back home.  On a second, shorter walk later that day, the same thing happened.

Even more good news; looks like I’m better at cold weather management than a creature with built-in boots.

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