Friday, February 10, 2006

Rain, rain, come our way...

Scheduling, predictability and time conciousness....non existent in a Third World country...FYI.

I am feeling the love today...with kind regards from our Uganda Electricity Service.

There was an official announcement two days ago. AFTER three weeks of horrible power outages, our Electricity Experts declared "we have a problem."

Indeed.

The hippos are drinking Lake Victoria! Or something...

Because five feet of water from the mammoth lake have disappeared. Evaported. Gone...

So now, the generating dams are not...generating that is.

We are without power for 12 hours a day...or WITH power 12 hours a day...depending on your outlook. Or your hold on reality.

Because, what they don't tell you... is that your 12 hours will be delivered in any increment they deem appropriate....

For instance, last night our power went off at 5pm. Came back at 5:10. Went off at 5:20. Came back at 5:45. Went off at 6:00. Came back on at 6:15. Went off at 7:00. Came back on at 7:05. Went off at 8:15. Came back at 8:30. Went off at 8:45. Came back at 9:15. ...whew.

To give you the visual. Power clicks off. I huff and look at the clock (why?). As I hunt for the matches that mysteriously walk away from where I last put them, my mind clicks off 12 hours from time on clock. Before I get one candle lit, power clicks back on. Sigh. Wait for everything to click back on, settle back in with movie. Power clicks off. Louder huff. Matches? Candle...Discuss generator option. Walk out to generator room...power clicks on before generator turns on. Deeper sigh. Back to the house. Settle back in...power off...Huff and special words :-)...skip candles...straight to generator...many kind comments floating about...generator won't start...check oil...fiddle with wires...power clicks back on. While power is on...quickly locate flashlight...more matches and candles...light them and leave them lit for the duration...beg husband to please take a look at the generator...starts right up for him (argh! and Yea!)....settle back in with movie...can't even remember what we are watching...town power returns...do we turn off the generator or just run off generator?...generator dies...back to town power...prepare for bed...crawl under covers...power clicks off...children begin to cry...out of bed...WHERE ARE THE MATCHES?!?!?!....light the lantern...pull blankets off bed...try to sleep in the heat with no fans to cool you...

Are you feeling the love too?

We have been told that this power service will not change until it rains in Jinja. I'm not sure if that is the Ugandan equivalent of "when donkeys fly"...but I'm kinda scared that it might be.

So for now, we resign ourselves to the inevitable. Try to laugh about it. Apologize to our family when we forget to choose a good attitude:-)...dutifully pay our electricity bill...and wait for the rain.

I sure hope its coming...

6 comments:

Jim Coffey said...

[rolling on the floor laughing out loud] colorful words indeed [sigh]

The good people of east Texas had a small taste of this life after Hurricane Rita rolled through. In the college town of Huntsville they had rolling blackouts for 2 weeks. The electric company gave them a schedule - and then promptly ignored the schedule.

When students lose term papers on computers that crash they use very colorful words.

It was very good for us in the USA to realize how rich and lucky we are ... most of the time. Unfortunately everyone seems to be back to their normal materialistic selves [sigh].

Patty said...

Ahh... memories. We had a season of rolling blackouts. It was when they announced that we'd be going to (I believe it was) 44 hours off, 4 hours on that we finally caved and bought a generator. It was either that or I was going to wait out the drought in another country. What I most remember (besides sleeping with barely-frozen ice packs on the concrete floor under the fan in case the power came on in the night) was that when the power went off, the water was off, too. So any time the electricity was on, we were frantically filling barrels with water to hold us over until the next power.

Enjoy your lightless evenings-- read alouds are good and charades, though it's tough in the dark. These are the stories your kids will tell their grandkids.

Rusty and Laura said...

Ah, yes, the days of rationed power. I well remember the candle-lit dinners and doing homework by lantern light. As a kid, it always seemed sort of romantic, like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie! Until the day of my surprise 18th birthday party when a horrible brown-out prevented my friends and I from watching the recently released "Lion King," in keeping with the African theme for the evening.

kristi w said...

I've been reading a lot this week about how Uganda is in big trouble for draining Lake Victoria to keep its power on, despite one of those pesky international agreements. It was about two days after these articles began flooding my newsreader (no pun intended!) that you talked about the black-outs. Guess they've decided to put a hold on those dams after all, even though they adamantly deny the problem! You gotta love Ugandan politics - at least if you don't live there!

Lori Earles said...

One day, if I keep at it, maybe I'll be a superb writer like you! Thanks for entertaining me, Number 10! :)

Steve Maxwell said...

Great post. I guess I just don't have it that bad. God bless you for your sacrifice.