I, like my father, am usually the type of person that rolls with the punches, takes things in stride, deals with it. However this week, I don’t feel like being my usual self. I need/want to vent so will do so to the blogging world.
Next week we have a team coming from the U.S. for our annual campmeeting. We are very excited about both the team and campmeeting. But that means that this week is the week that I finish all my prep for the team – mostly kitchen/food/cleaning stuff. That would be worthy of it’s own blog post. Suffice it to say that it’s a busy time. In addition, the kids are on break and we wanted to squeeze in something fun – other than the fun we are on a daily basis!!
Monday I went out and I had given my kitchen helper some things to do before I got home. Upon arriving home, I was informed that my ‘machine’ wasn’t turning on. By machine, I mean the motor that runs my blender, grater, slicer, chopper, kneader, mixer. It’s used daily – often multiple times daily. All I can figure is that while he was busily grating 5 kilos of cheese in a very hot kitchen, the motor just got tired. He insisted on getting that cheese grated and the motor said forget it and gave up the ghost. This was not good news. I decided to hope for the best and once it cooled down maybe it would spring back to life (after all, that’s what sitting in AC does for me after I’ve worked hard and am hot and sweaty). Sadly, that was not the case. We took it to someone who repairs motorized things, but he didn’t give us a lot of hope. Not sure what I’m going to do without my machine…
That night, our power went out. Nothing earth-shattering there. That happens all the time. However it didn’t take us long to realize that something wasn’t right. Usually we’re in the dark together with all of our neighbors. But tonight we were going it alone. I didn’t need to use my college degree to realize that the problem then, was likely isolated at our house. Neal immediately called our electrician (we call him ‘ours’ because we have to call on him so frequently – he’s almost part of the family) and he came right over. Mom and Dad had been at the house with us so Neal, Dad and Boube’ (since he is a family member I should use his name) went straightaway to the Nigelec office. The plan was to bring a technician to our house to discover the problem. They found, however, that we were not the only ones with that plan. And the Nigelec man was afraid to go with anyone for fear of a small riot. So they all just sat there, waiting for another technician to come back from another repair. Back at the homestead, Mom and I sat in the dark on the veranda talking – mostly about Trae. Because it was his birthday – his 19th and we were missing him. After a fair amount of time had passed, Neal and Dad came back home, leaving Boube’ to bring technician guy whenever he could get him. All we had heard is that everyone that had a problem all lived in our general area. Neal – using his college education – decided to go flip our switch, just to humor us. Imagine our surprise when the house lighted up! Problem solved. We still don’t know what the problem was, but what did it matter?
Also on Monday I cooked about 12 pounds of ground beef. Half for taco meat, and half for sloppy joes. Again – prep for next week and our travels to Maradi. Along with the meat, I had added about 6 cups of chopped onions (what can I say, we like onions), and to the taco meat, I added about 1/2 a large container of coveted taco seasoning that had been ‘imported’ from the US. I did a taste test to make sure it was spicy enough (and because I was hungry) and at first I thought my taste buds were malfunctioning. Maybe the taco seasoning was old? I tasted the sloppy joe pot that I hadn’t seasoned yet. Same very odd taste. It didn’t taste spoiled, but it was very weird. Like maybe it wasn’t beef? So I brought a spoonful to Neal. He is not like Mikey and will not eat questionable food, but I convinced him to try his tastebuds on the meat. He agreed. Something was weird. Now what? I have 2 large pots of meat worth about $30. Not only that – I’ve used my U.S. ingredients! I could use it, and tell our visitors that this is what ground beef in Niger tastes like. In the end, I couldn’t do it. I cooled the meat and the next day gave it to appreciative neighbors. (I later cooked new meat with much more desirable results).
Little annoying things continued to happen – things that wanted to put me in a bad mood. Like our iron breaking. Again. Now it just smokes when you plug it in. And the iron gets as much use as my now broken ‘machine’. But Tuesday a bigger thing happened, one that made the annoyances pale. Without going into details, we discovered that one of the Africans we are close to us has been involved in immorality. This affects many more people than just us, but helps to put things in perspective. We’re still kind of in shock as more information continues to be revealed.
Wednesday evening our electricity again went out. Along with the whole city of Niamey. Again, not a big surprise. These ‘outs’ can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 or 3 hours – usually. One never knows. We have a small generator that can run lights and fans only. Which is several steps better than nothing. We started the generator and around bedtime, I went to bed. Neal knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep, so he didn’t. Around 2am, he finally came to bed, though still no power. Our bedroom was around the 90 degree mark, but the fan did help. Until the little generator stopped. So we pulled out the small battery operated fan (thanks George for leaving that here!) and put it between us on the bed. Apparently I kept turning it my direction, but I have no recollection of that. There was lots of tossing and turning and a bit of what may have resembled sleep. It got light outside, but we still had no power. It had now been out for 12 hours. And no explanation as to what was wrong. We attempted to go about our daily plan – but found it too difficult to do much of anything. Partly because most of what we do requires electricity of some form, and partly because to walk from one room to the next we broke out into a sweat. When darkness rolled around and we were still without power, we called on the kindness and of the elder Childs. They live on a mission compound and one of the greatest benefits of living there is the big generator. The one that runs even AC’s! So down the road we went and found the beds made and the room already cooled. What a night! We woke to a breakfast of mango smoothies – courtesy of Dad. And it was doubly good because even if we had power at our house, my blender is on the fritz so no smoothies for us there!
Today we decided that we would go back to the lovely hotel where we had my birthday lunch just 2 weeks ago. They have a pool. And that is where I’m now writing this. Poolside in my bathing suit. Which is also why there are no pictures in this post! Why we haven’t come here before escapes me. They only charged us the equivalent of $5/person, and told us that there was no charge for Tobi. The place has a feel of a resort. Beautiful, huge trees, including palms. The pool is shaded almost the whole day. Comfortable chairs of all types and even wireless internet. And they have a generator that keeps the restaurant and lobby nice and crispy. They were so friendly and treated us as guests. We had a great lunch, and later brought our own snacks and drinks. Not only did they not complain, they brought us a big bucket of ice for our drinks. I was thrilled with that because at home we had nothing cold left.
While sitting here enjoying my forced relaxation (I had lots of things on my ‘to do’ list for today, but they weren’t going to happen), I heard the generator kick off and ‘real’ electricity return. Which likely meant it was on at our house.
We packed up and returned home which is where I’m finishing this post. The electricity is still on. It’s now dark outside but after almost 48 hours, it’s light in our house. I have a clean fridge/freezer. We took the opportunity to completely clean it out since it was off. We even washed out the ice trays. It’s very possible that they are ‘sharing’ the power around the city so light might go out again. But for now, I’m going to enjoy it. I started to wonder why I feel like such a wimp about all this. Big deal. No light. I’m able to rough it. Really, I am. But roughing it is much easier when it’s planned for and not forced. And when it’s not 100+ degrees!