Just when I thought this world couldn’t get any stranger. In a bizarre case of the grass must be greener over there, Winnipeg is welcoming visitors from Australia and southern United States who want to experience cold.
Yes, that’s right cold. Bone chilling lock yourself in the bedroom and crank up the furnace and hide cold. The six-day winter exchange is all part of worldwide cultural exchange movement called Friendship Force. Founded in 1977 by US President Jimmy Carter, Friendship Force joins people around the world in an opportunity to explore different cultures and experience the world in a way travellers seldom get to experience. By billeting, the travellers get the opportunity to stay in a home hosted by a native of the area. Thus getting an authentic taste of daily life that staying in a hotel just cannot deliver.
The group visiting Winnipeg this week for Festival du Voyageur includes 25 Australians and 9 from the southern United States. Most of the group have never experienced anything like what we have in store for them. Today, Weather Network.com is showing an air temperature of -26 Celsius. According to Gayle Macready, an Australian, a cold day is when the temp dips to +18 C, that my friends is an almost 50 degree difference.
I was muttering only last week that the temperatures were unseasonably warm, and that all the snow sculptures were melting before the start of Festival. Well what a difference a week can make, we are back into the deep freeze and now proudly showing it off to the world.
Friendship Force is giving these brave souls a chance to experience cold in a way that I would imagine would be completely foreign to them. Not only do they get to develop the ability to calculate windchill factor on their frozen fingertips, they also get to practice dressing in layers.
You see just having bulky clothing is not enough here. For example what would you do if you started to sweat in the bright sunshine underneath a massive down coat? Dressing in layers offers one the ability to shed a little clothing at a time to stave off freezing to death in your own perspiration.
But enough of the cold, Friendship Force visitors will also get to experience Manitoba’s famous hospitality. We don’t have Friendly Manitoba, on the licence plates just for fun.
The visitors will get to take part in curling, hockey and be the guests of honour in the opening ceremonies for Festival du Voyager. I am sure a hearty bowl of pea soup and a slice of tourtière will await them after braving the cold opening parade. Reportedly Aussie Pam Ferguson was disappointed with the balmy weather when her group touched down in Winnipeg last week. Thankfully the weather god’s favoured her with an authentic mid-season blizzard that caused the province to shut many highways for safety and the temperatures to plummet.
Well Pam it looks like you got your wish after all. I hope that everyone in your group gets a good taste of Winterpeg, Manisnowba. Don’t lose any fingers to jack frost and don’t be licking any flag poles for that matter either.