Monday, November 5, 2012

Under Hardships If Necessary

This week I had no electricity.

It isn't hard living without electricity.. in fact before I moved to Benin I EXPECTED to be living without electricity. When you come to expect something like electricity... it becomes hard to live without.

Sometime during the night between Wednesday and Thursday my entire neighborhoods power went out. Power Surges (or whatever) are very common in Benin.. obviously. However, I live right outside the Capitol City.. and I have come to expect extravagant things like electricity. Up until this week.. I had never lost electrical power for more than 2 hours. AKA I was unprepared.

So as I was saying.. when I woke up Thursday morning there was no electricity... no biggie. Then I went to shower... no water!! Oh well. I went to work and assumed all would be right when I returned in the afternoon. Later I learned that the water pump.. doesn't work when there is no electric to make it work.

When I returned at lunch time there was still no power. My neighbor told me there was “a problem la ba”.. which means “the problem is over there” which is the vague and unhelpful answer given for many questions in this country... if you ask where anything is.. it is “la ba” In this case I think that la ba.. meant the power source. Yay.

I was assured it would all be fixed before nightfall. I stopped believing that shortly before bedtime. At this point both my computer and my phone (which needs to charge once a week) were dead. Because I was unprepared.

Friday: My landlord delivered us jugs of water in the evening.. which I guess I should have realized was a bad sign. I keep my water filter well stocked so I wasn't worried about dehydrating. But I did have a lot of dishes to wash.. and it was nice not to have to waste my drinking water to cook some pasta. At this point my kindle (which I charge once every 2 months) and my Ipod were flashing battery warnings saying FEED ME FEED ME!!

Saturday: Still no power. BUT It will definitely be back on today! My landlord pantomimed at me “The men are working on it!” and then did a car motion.. maybe that meant a car hit it.. maybe it just was another one of his weird hand gestures he uses when trying to communicate with me. He barely speaks any french so who knows. At this point I was becoming a skeptic as to the return of the power.. so I decided to try to charge something with the solar charger I brought from home... which doesn't have an adapter for my phone anyway. Saturday was my anniversary (sorry sweetie) and the only thing I was really concerned about charging was the phone. The solar charger (which holds charge) wasn't charged.. or working.. I figured I would be able to fix that on Sunday. Now the kindle and the Ipod have both completely drained.

Sunday: How ridiculous I felt by Sunday. I moved to Benin expecting no electricity.. packing all sorts of solar charging devices and fun stuff.. and day 4 of a power outage... I had no electronics.. no way to contact the outside world.. and NOTHING to do. Of course.. it rained all morning and was cloudy. Natures attempt to foil my plans. At this point I was concerned that Erik probably thought I was dead... and my boss was coming to visit during the day Monday and I needed a phone so he could contact me. I discovered that the solar charger peace corps gave us while not being as nice as my other one.. did have an adapter for my phone. BUT the charger didn't actually work... AT ALL. Now my camera battery is dead too.. I tried to take a picture of the solar powered chain of command I rigged up in an attempt to charge my cell phone.. but as soon as I turned it on.. it asked to be charged and shut off. (I'm a failure at this living under hardships aspect.. I have been spoiled)

Monday: As of today at 5.. when I left my post to come here to Cotonou (to watch the elections.. and apparently football.. which would have been exciting if it wasn't so incredibly disappointing) My power was still out. I was able to charge my phone up in the morning at the office though. Hopefully when I go back home it will be fixed. My landlord said it would.. but then I heard one of my neighbors saying this happened where he used to live.. and he had no power for 3 months.

All in all I discovered that I am completely unprepared for the situations that I moved to Africa being completely “prepared for” Now that I no longer expect them. I also now know that if the power goes out that I will eventually die of dehydration.. at least I was prepared enough in that I always keep enough water in my water filter to last a few days.

Other News: I finally received my absentee ballot today. REALLY HELPFUL... and I finished an entire journal this week for the first time in my life!! 


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