Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does it get cold here?

It really does not get cold here. "Here" meaning in the valley of Oaxaca. But, take a drive up into the mountains, within an hour of Oaxaca and you have another story.

Mountain view
Tanya and I took a northern excursion this past weekend into the mountains up towards Ixtlan where the state is "pushing" the eco-tourist theme. It is very pretty with tall pines and great views. We booked into a rustic cabin about one hour north. We hiked the property and drove the route to Ixtlan and back to the cabin.

I was having a cigar and a beverage outside the cabin and having a pleasant conversation with Tanya when a lady walked by wearing a jacket, hat and mittens. The mittens were red and looked a little Christmascy. I was surprised that she was dressed so warmly since Tanya was wearing Capri slacks and I was in jeans and a t-shirt. Surely it wasn't cold enough for mittens.

Rustic cabin
After supper we lit the wood in the fireplace and enjoyed a couple of hours in front of the fireplace with a drink and conversation. At nine o'clock we decided that it was time for bed. Whoa! When the sun goes down in the mountains and the fire goes out it really gets cold. When we pulled back the top blanket we were surprised, yet happy to see that the sheets, including the pillow cases, were flannel. There were also heavy horse blankets on the bed. Surely that would keep anyone warm.

Well, my head was freezing and my feet got cold. I put on socks which helped a bit. Yet, I could not sleep. I found it difficult to sleep at that altitude which was around 2400 meters (2.4 km). In the Oaxaca valley we are only at 1550 meters. I was surprised that an extra kilometer would make that much of a difference.

During the day I can apparently inhale enough air to keep me going without noticing shortness of breath. However, at night when I am horizontal and my breathing gets shallow I awake gasping for air. This meant that I only rested during the night, sitting on the couch looking out the window into the darkness with two heavy horse blankets wrapped around me. At best I got one hour of sleep. Tanya had a great sleep however.

The next day was great. We hiked all day. That second night was warmer and my body adjusted enough during the day by making more red blood corpuscles to bring more oxygen to the body. I had a great sleep.

Our hiking guide told us that the streams and ponds can get a thin layer of ice on them during the winter nights. And frost is very common in the winter. This only happens in the mountains not the nice and warm valley of Oaxaca.

I think I'll stay in the valley where it is nice and warm.

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