Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas ...

Winter Day near St. Jacobs, Ontario
I'm someone who loves snow, and, up until recently, hated the beach. You might be wondering then, how did I end up living in Mexico, or even worse, Playa del Carmen.  I used to ask myself the same thing.  (The real reason was based in an adventurous-spirit driven decision, which, ironically, started the least adventurous, but probably most rewarding, part of my life.  Click here to read about adventurous spirits.)

I love just about everything about cold, snowy winters.  Tobogganing, skating, the white winter scenery, and, yes, even the cold.  I feel heat very easily, but I'm not too badly affected by the cold.  Last time I was in Canada for the winter (Christmas & New Year's 2008/2009) outside I usually wore only a sweater, a tuque and some thin gloves in addition to my usual clothes (running shoes replacing the usual sandals I've got used to since living down here.)  My wife, on the other hand,  was wearing long-johns, two pairs of pants, snow pants, 2 sweaters, a jacket, a scarf, a hat, two pairs of socks and winter boots, and still felt cold, even when indoors.  But she had never experienced temperatures below 5 degrees, so it was understandable.

I miss making snowmen and snow angles, going on snowy winter walks, and seeing hoar frost on the trees.   I miss seeing the unreal bluish world of a snowy night lit by the moon (with no city lights - it's absolutely beautiful!)  I miss coming in from the cold to drink a cup of hot chocolate.  I've never had trouble getting warm when it's too cold, but when it's really hot in the summer here, I can't find any way to keep cool; air conditioning just makes everything worse when you do have to go outside.

Winter Morning in Playa del Carmen
On the other hand, there are some things I've really grown to love about spending winter in Mexico.  Winter here is nothing like winter at all.  It is actually like early fall.  Since early fall in Canada is my favourite season (the only one I like more than winter), this is ideal.  Cold nights might get as low as 15 degrees, just cold enough to put on warm pajamas and a thick blanket.  Warm days rarely go over 25 degrees.  I've always felt 18 degrees is the most comfortable temperature to walk around without a jacket and use sandals. Slightly lower is nice to put on a sweater and socks.  This is in fact what the temperatures are here, well over half the day.

Another thing that I've realized is that a moonlit beach is as beautiful as a moonlit winter scene; even beach lovers usually don't know about this, since most of them enjoy the intense midday sun on the hot sand, covered with crowds of noisy people, neither of which are in any way appealing to me.  I've come to love the beach, but when it is empty, quiet and abandoned in the light of the moon, or in the early morning, just after sunrise when the air is still cool and the shadows are still long, providing plenty of shade to enjoy a relaxing breakfast.  There also used to be a somewhat hidden bar here in Playa del Carmen, which was very empty (probably the reason it eventually closed) and had tables out on the sand, and you could enjoy a drink with the cool breeze from the ocean.

Winter is the best time to be in Playa del Carmen, and it is also probably one of the best places to be in the winter, considering the general appeal of these temperatures.  I've managed to find my own little pleasures here.

To avoid drastic cold and drastic heat, my wife and I have begun throwing around the idea of living in Canada for the summer and in Playa del Carmen for the winter.  I can understand why retirees do it.  We'd have to work out some details about work and school, but it could very well be possible.

(Christmas, of course, is an entirely different topic, and doesn't really have much to do with winter.  I'm sure there weren't many snow flakes or toboggans in Palestine when Christ was born, but Christmas will get a few posts all to itself.)


  1. I lived all my life in Mexico, and now I live in warm California, so not much snow for me either..Anyway, I went for a day trip to a mountain only 30 minutes from my house, and we were able to enjoy tons of snow! I really loved it! Apple Hill is the name of the place, where you can eat warm apple pies every 100 feet. Or if you prefer, drink beer or taste wine in front of the chimney. I had a big taste of White Christmas there. My dog Luka loved it too, she got crazy with the snow..I think she likes it as much as the beach, but in different way. Dogs know too, that if you can do should get all what life gives you!!

  2. We didn't have snow for Xmas but OMG! the snow we had 2 days ago... Blizzard. Airpots closed well. As everything was fine at home we just enjoyed the view of everything been painted in White and the following day to do some snow angels. My daughter wanted to build a snow man but I just can't ..lack of experience I guess as this is my 2nd Winter around, use to hide from the cold in Mexico .. I used to hate cold and snow but when my kids reached the age of playing on it.. I just loved the season immediately. :)

  3. Claudia, I think that would be an ideal place to live - a slightly warmer place, where snow and real winter a short drive away. Apple Hill sounds like a great place to visit.

    Sabrina, it's nice that you've come to love the winter! It really is fun, even if you find the cold difficult. For snowmen, you also need the right kind of snow. Usually the first snow fall is too light and fluffy. Heavier, "packing" snow is needed. Keep trying ...