It was cold here in Curitiba a couple of weeks ago. And I mean really cold. On one night it got down to -3! And it snowed! That’s how cold it was. It hasn’t snowed here since 1975. Ok, if you blinked it would have missed it because it lasted about 5 minutes and didn’t settle at all. And it was probably more sleet than snow. But still…it snowed!
Usually I can tease my friends a family back home because even in the winter we often have better weather than the UK. This time though Britain was experiencing a heatwave while we had our most extreme cold snap in a generation.
This city, despite being the coldest state capital in Brazil, this city is not prepared for the cold. There are a lot of homeless people who were in danger during the cold snap and this lead to the local council opening up their shelters for the homeless and their dogs. Usually, dogs are not allowed in which means that lots of people decide to stay out on the streets, but it was so cold the rules had to be relaxed. It was sold in the press by more than one person as a way to save dogs rather than people, which kind of tells you a lot.
Individual Curitibanos rallied around to donate warm clothes to the homeless. This was mainly done through the council and charitable organisations, but I also saw one tree in Praça do Japão with some hooks nailed into it and clothes left on the hooks. Under the hooks was a sign inviting homeless people to take whatever clothes they wanted to help them keep warm.
At times it was even colder inside houses than outside. There are very few homes with insulation, and even fewer with double glazing. The windows that we do have are usually fitted badly so that there is always a draft, and this is amplified by doors with a one inch gap under them. With no central heating we have to turn to either space heaters or lots and lots of blankets.
This can be a problem for parents with young children. After a story and a bath you tuck your two-year-old up in bed with an extra duvet to keep him warm. When you look in on him 20 minutes later you see that he has thrown all of the blankets and sheets off and his almost shivering in the cold. This is even worse if he refuses to wear the warm pyjamas you bought him. Fortunately, my wife found a great solution the last time we were back in the UK: blankets with zips so that they can’t be thrown off.
As so often with the best ideas, this one was blindingly obvious as soon as somebody else told me about it. It really seems to have worked as Mr. T was much warmer this year than last and doesn’t seem to have suffered from the same amount of coughs and colds.
Of course this week we have the opposite problem. 7 days after half freezing to death the city was enjoying a mini-heatwave with temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the day. It has been a case of needing sunglasses and sun cream rather than hats and scarves.
- Brrr-r-r-r!! Cold Night in Brazil (brazilnieminens.wordpress.com)
- Brazil’s ‘largest snow in decades’: Snow in over 80 cities, roads and schools closed (sott.net)