Thursday, December 01, 2005
Freezing my ass off
The blazing heat of Niger already is a long lost memory. These days it’s cold here in Belgium. Not Nordic –20°C but dry and sunny so rather enjoyable cold. No, it’s the real North Sea humid –5°C bone chilling grey skies cold. It’s that kind of cold that no amount of warm clothing seems to be able to block. You just freeze, no matter what you do.
In our flat in downtown Antwerp, this means we switched to the winter mode. We only have two gas stoves in our apartment, one in the living room and one in the big room next to our bedroom. Add to that an electrical heater in the bathroom, which is by no means capable of dealing with any serious drop in temperatures. It takes roughly an hour to heat up the bathroom above freezing point.
Morning, evening and bathing rituals therefore take a bit of time and physical stamina. In the morning, I jump out of bed, rip my clothes from the floor – I know, I should hang them up – and race for the bathroom. There, the timer started the electrical heater 15 minutes earlier, but that is not enough to make the bathroom comfortably warm. From there, I haste my way to the living room to light the gas stove. Luckily, it’s powerful enough to heat the room in ten minutes or so. Still, I insist on dressing in the bathroom. It builds character you know, facing the cold bare-skinned.
The most painful thing however is going to the toilet during the winter, especially to ‘do big business’. Because there is no heating whatsoever in the toilet or even in the vicinity. The floor below us is uninhabited, and we live right under the roof, so no help there from any old folks burning their entire pensions in their central heating. And the window is a mere symbolic It’s freaking cold in there and apparently the toilet seat has it’s own liquid-nitrogen-cooler. Oh, this dreadful feeling when your bed-warmed butt-cheeks touch this freezing piece of plastic…