Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cool Tiles

For the last two days, I have been without central airconditioning from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Our building needed new cooling towers for the central AC units. What a joy! In the humid and hot Summer weather, this has been difficult.

There are no lack of places one can go in the city to keep cool, but you don't want to spend your day wandering about. Going out without a purpose, doesn't make much sense. As I work from home in different projects, I have a lot to do during the day. So I decided to stay put. Usually, I have our apartment unit on automatic. This means it only turns on at a certain temperature... cools everything and shuts down again. The house is comfortable without getting too cold. I know, why? you might ask. Well, all is a matter of taste, habit or being environmentally responsible.

Back on the island, and Curaçao is hardly an exception in the rest of the world, energy is very expensive. Central airconditioning units are a rare thing. Most everyone has individual units in bedrooms and family rooms. These are turned on at night or when we gather together for some entertaiment or family time. The rest of the day, we go about our lives without the benefit of this modern convenience. It took me a while to get used to that when I moved there, but I adjusted. So much so than when I moved back to the States, I kept turning up the temperature of our unit every morning after getting out of bed. Most of the time it doesn't bother me....... when it is too hot, it starts by itself!

During recent hurricanes, we have been lucky. We never were without power for more than a few hours. Twelve at the time, in the middle of the hottest month...... this is a first. Still, I am coping much better than the rest of the people in my building, who are used to central AC for the whole day. I woke up earlier than usual, closed all the blinds and verticals, keeping the house dark and the coolness of the night inside. Bedrooms doors and windows were kept closed.

In the middle of all this, I remembered something. When things get really hot on the island, and people either can't afford to turn the units on during daylight hours, or simple do not have them....... they have a neat trick. Get your biggest towel, or a pair of old sheets and lay them on the tiles. Yes, the tiles. Haven't you noticed that they never get hot? They can be hard, but they keep you cool; and when your spot turns uncomfortably warm..... move your improvised bedding. Simple and cheap solution. My good friend Jerri once told me that she remembered this trick from her childhood, when the hot Summer days got so oppressive, her mother made a beach on their living room complete with towels, bathing suits and lemonade. It was so much fun in........ Indiana!!!!

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