“If you are going to see the Winter Solstice Ceremony at Tiwanaku, you need to bring warm clothes. It is very cold!”, we were warned many times by Bolivians before leaving.
My friend from Holland and I just laughed while responding: “We are from Holland and Norway, we are used to cold!”.
In Cochabamba where we lived the weather is warm the whole year alone. And that is why we thought cold meant 10 Celsius degrees here in Bolivia.
So we brought some warm clothes, but not many. I did not have many warm clothes with me to Bolivia, as I was in Cuba before and was going to India afterwards, so I mostly had summer clothes. But I brought the warmest clothes I had with me to Tiwanaku.
I went in jeans, and jogging shoes, my warmest sweater and a thin jacket. Furthermore, I bought some wool socks and mittens, and I had a hat given as a gift.
At 11 in the night we arrived to Tiwanaku. We had to wait until 6 in the morning for the sun to come up for see the winter solstice ceremony. Where the the indigenous worship the sun, and thank mother earth for the last year and ask for good crops the next. These seven hours of waiting where the worst in my life.
There was nowhere to be inside. Just a small restaurant, which had many holes in the windows so it was as cold inside as it was outside. 22 degrees below zero Celsius.
There were some fires that you could warm yourself on, but when you are dressed as bad as us, it did not help that much.
I have been sleeping outside in tent in 30 minus degrees when I was in the Red Cross. I have been in so cold climate that my eye leeches have turned to ice. But I have never felt as cold as I did that night in Tiwanaku.
Because in Norway we have a famous quote that says: There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. And that was the problem that night, the clothes.
We managed to wait to 6 in the morning. When the sun came up, it was such a delicious feeling when the sun came up giving a little bit of warmth. But I could not feel my feet. I had so much pain in my body, I wanted to cry. Due to this, I could not really enjoy the ceremony, and after 10 minutes we left back to La Paz.
After this night, I got a very bad infection in my lungs and throat and even had to go to the hospital.
Furthermore, after this night, I have always followed the advices of the local people. They usually know what they are talking about!!
Where and when was the coldest climate you have ever experienced?