Montreal chronicles 1.- Heat wave
I am definitely going from an extreme to the other. I just remembered last winter in Québec. I’ve wanted to take my Sunday breakfast at the nearby coffee shop. It was incredibly cold outside (-28C but it really felt like -38). I’ve decided I would not be staying at home in spite of the polar weather; because the loneliness of this city is oppressive and you must see people somewhere in order to stay mentally sane. You don’t need to interact with them, you just want to feel that you are part of a human community.
So, I cover myself like a big and expensive delivery gift (you see, covering with thousands of layers of clothing) and I left in adventurous mood my apartment, two blocks away from the coffee shop. When I arrived… I was dying! If it wasn’t for the long waiting line, the guy asking for my order may have had to call 911. The time I spent waiting for my turn was enough for me to regain my composure and make the promise to myself of that I would be smarter and not go outside when temperatures go that low. I am sure I was in colder weather as I was getting out a mining in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in the near north of Québec city. Almost -40C. But it never felt as bad as that simple walk to the Tim Hortons nearby: General body discomfort, headache, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and … cough!
Last week we had a heat wave in Montréal, which means several days of extremely hot weather. For each city in this region, it could mean different ranges of hot temperatures, some of them really agreeable, mostly in Québec City. But in Montreal…well… it was a weather record, I believe. A thermal sensation of about 45C. You know, the feeling that you are inside an oven and you don’t have a place to run away. You also feel you should tear apart your skin to feel some freshness (contraindicated unless you are Robbie Willams and want to attract girls) or move the office to the closest bath. I am not Trumbo and, in fact, I am scared to electrocute myself with my laptop…
A coworker told me, days before, that I should buy an air conditioner. Some other friends told me that I should buy a second-hand appliance just to install it in my bedroom. Other friends were saying that I would pay a fortune in electricity bills. Anyway, with my little budget all I could afford was an extra fan. The one I already had was ridiculously insufficient, just effective for the almost-non-summer of the former city I was living in. So, I made my window-shopping homework (magasiner, in Québec’s French) and I found a store that was selling some fans at affordable prices. That is what got me to jump in the metro and rush to the store. I spent half an hour in the ventilation section, watching sadly the air conditioner machines with resignation (too expensive for me), and trying to choose a good fan that would give me my money’s worth. I finally got one. Absolutely huge, it seemed to be part of a plane’s propeller. I just dragged it to the cashier. I dragged it again to the metro stations, and then home.
A whole epic adventure just to realize that I had to keep my windows closed during the heat wave in order not to allow the hot air to come in, or the damn big fan was just going to make that hot air circulate. I finished my day in underwear, facing the big fan, after taking several showers, cursing my poverty… and getting the flu at the end of the heat wave. Though luck for being in extreme weather, my friend said. I agree. But I prefer being burning a thousand times than being freezing to death. Does someone know if those pills for the flu work, even if I take them with cold water?