The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Light is Out – AGAIN (by Suzanne)

OK - there is a theme to our blogging these days.

So, I’m not one to complain too much. But… in the past 9 days, we’ve not had power almost as much as we’ve had it – and in the last 4 days, hands down, no power wins, with no power at all during daylight hours, and often the evening too. I’d happily go back to the no power for 12 hours every 3 days schedule – when there is no schedule, you never know when it will go off, and when it does, if it will be a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. It’s not the end of the world; we’re managing. BUT… it’s hot! And sticky! And one of the evenings with no light, we had no water too (that whole electric pump thing). Several days in a row of no light frankly makes a person cranky (this person especially – just ask Steve). On Thursday, it was HOT at work (we have power but no air conditioning when the light is out at work) and I had drinking water but it was low and warm and it was late in the day and I thought, “I’ll get some nice cold water at one of the stands nearby”. A glorious thought! THAT would cool me down. But guess what – no bottled water there. They did have sachets (they are little sealed plastic bags of water), which would be fine, but warm. (Of course they were warm – the light is out!). So, my hopes were dashed. I actually ended up overheating that day, with a huge headache and all, so I didn’t get my grading done that evening. Productivity in other ways has suffered too – I sure understand the “mañana” culture a lot more now! But, I have also learned from it – the fridge at Ashesi works, so I bring plenty of water and put it in the fridge (duh!). I wear only very cool clothes. I don’t walk too fast, so I’m not SO hot when I arrive to an un-airconditioned office. I sometimes leave work early and sit on our screened in porch and work a little there. And, I try to keep a positive attitude (I really am trying!).

Steve has the much harder job, figuring out meals that don’t require much fridge access, and making just enough so there’s no leftovers (we are very used to cooking for leftovers – we like leftovers!). Laundry was a huge issue this week, as Fox and Grace went to Togo for a school tournament Friday morning and needed clean clothes, and most of what they needed was dirty and soaked with sweat from the week. We had power from midnight to 7am Thursday (whoo-hoo) and so at 6:55am I started one of the three loads of laundry they needed, and then power went out 5 minutes later (and it’s a front-loading machine that locks after it starts). There are no laundromats here – people hand wash mostly. Steve problem-solved the whole Togo-trip-laundry-problem, though, and our guard’s wife Vida came over and spent the whole day Thursday doing our laundry by hand and then hung it all out to dry, although the heavy things and the later things she washed were not dry by evening. Steve also figured out how to get the washing machine drained and opened and she washed those too. Luckily, the power came on Thursday night (for 12 whole hours this time!) so I was able to get everything dried in time for them to pack and be out the door at 7:30am Friday. Whew. We were all sweating that one (excuse the pun).

So, our noble no-generator days may be coming to an end. I need to not be cranky. Kids need to do their homework. We need to have a functioning refrigerator. We need to be able to do laundry. In many respects, it seems silly to buy a generator when we’ll only be here a few more months, but… the situation is only getting worse and it’s only getting hotter. Because Ghana’s power is almost 100% hydro-electric, there won’t be more power until there’s more rain – in May, at the end of the really hot season. So, we could keep going without a generator, but… I’m guessing you’ll be reading about the new generator in a few weeks (maybe days??).


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