We have in our glorious town, three tobacco companies. Other than missionaries and our group, that is where all of the ex-pats come from. They do great things here. They provide a lot of jobs. They are the reason for so much housing. They built the Gymkhana Club (it is KIND of like a country club). They even provide the doctor that we go see. He is a company doctor for one of the plants but they allow the ex-pats to use him too. (Not sure how that works I just know that is who I have in my phone.)
But...it is all their fault that we have been out of electricity so much lately. You see, when they are processing, they use 1/3 of the electricity for our region. REGION Our schedule has gone like this: Out all day Saturday (7:30 am - 6:00 pm); Sunday out a few hours during church and around lunch. Then out again Sunday evening until sometime early in the morning. Out all day Monday (7:30am - 6:00pm). Out again Tuesday night (6:30 pm - midnight). We have had power all day today. So weird. I am sure it will be off another day and another evening this week. But here is the real shocker....it is NO BIG DEAL.
Thanksgiving was shortly after we arrived. The power went out as we were having an outside party. Anywhere else it would have been pandemonium. No one here even batted an eye. The party went on. Electricity was out all day for Madeline and Lizzie's birthday. We stayed at a really nice lodge on safari a few weeks ago and they didn't turn the generator on until they needed to make sure the beer was cold for dinner! It is really no big deal.
Let's think about it. What is the biggest inconvenience when the power goes out? Air conditioner or heater right. Power in the US usually goes out because of hurricanes in the summer or ice storms in the winter. Well, we don't have hurricanes or ice storms here and we don't have air conditioners or heaters either. (People in Dar and Zanzibar have a/c but not in the town we live in.) HOW ON EARTH DO YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT A/C? Well, you just do. Our house was built for it. We live at the base of a mountain and get a good breeze, our house has too many windows to count and they never get closed. There is a crosswind that is so strong that the solid wood doors slam closed routinely. Don't let me try to fool you, January and February are HOT! I drank A LOT of lemonade and in the afternoons I did as little as possible. We slept under fans and prayed that we could feel them through the mosquito nets. But right now, it is winter and many nights we are cold and searching for the covers. I have spent many days of late in long pants and/or my favorite GAP sweatshirt. But most days it is comfortable.
What about your fridge and freezer? Well, I was taught not to open them when the power is out and that makes good sense except that with it out so often you just can't live like that. So, I try to keep Lizzie out of the fridge, open it as little as possible and at this point don't even give it a second thought. Except for the ice cream. It melts and refreezes and then is a little weird. Not too weird. I mean, we still eat it just the same. Can't throw out ice cream.
We do have to plan our meals. Our burners are gas but the oven is electric. Carter and Lizzie are good with cereal or oatmeal. We make coffee with a french press. No electricity required, just boil your water on the stove. (We have been caught without beans ground. We don't let that happen any more!) Madeline loves toast and eggs. She has discovered the wonderful treat of toast made in the skillet just like my grandma made. Oh, my! So good. I have been caught with dinner planned to go in the oven and power go out. It only takes once. I now plan to have meals out of the oven before 6:30.
What do you do all day? Well, we count our blessings. I bought a laptop just before we left and in my husbands great wisdom he upgraded to a 9 cell battery. We can play games and watch movies for a very long time before that baby runs out. We watched a movie last night in the peaceful darkness. The kids run and play and I don't have to monitor how long Carter plays on the Wii. I love that part!! We read books and do art projects and color in coloring books. The day goes on and we are happy.
What happens when it goes out at night? We are used to the routine. We have candles in the dining room (they were first placed there to keep the flies away during the summer, but they are also there when the power goes out as we are having dinner) and in our bathroom. If it is light outside when the power goes out we hurry the kids to get ready for bed and pull their covers back. If it is already dark we have them all get ready for bed in our room. We even have a spot to put a candle in the bathroom to brush teeth. Why don't you just use flashlights you may ask? Well, the kids broke the bulbs in my two mini mags and the batteries run out REALLY fast in the flashlights we purchased here. We purchased a lantern here but it doesn't shine very bright or very long. I have seen those oil lanterns. My grandma used to use them. Love them! except the smell. It gives me a headache. Plus, I just really love candles. We have them in empty wine bottles. I love the way the wax drips down the sides. Don't know why, just do. Then I catch my housekeeper cleaning the wax off of them. Don't know how to ask her to stop. Oh well, let it go. (Part of my new, relax, it doesn't really matter attitude. It's working for me.)
We have had some of the best times when the lights go out in the evening. One night we sat around in the sun room (before we had furniture in the living room :) and made up stories. Someone started out and then each person got to add on. I will remember it forever. Especially how Madeline always made it a princess and a prince getting married, Lizzie wanted them to have a baby and Carter entered with the Big Bad Wolf and ate them up. No matter what scenario Laurence and I came up with theirs was the same. We laughed and laughed. Then they started stealing each others stories. Good times.
We have had power all day today. I better finish off the ice cream. It is sure to go off tomorrow.