Thursday, March 06, 2008

My pals over at the electric company are waiting for a vital Part to arrive from France. And the lack of this object is ruining my life. Well, ok- maybe not ruining it, but still managing to make it far less nice than it could be.

You long-time readers of my blog know these guys- they’re the national electric company called Sonabel- the nice folks that regularly make things burst into flame at my house.

Well, for the last three days, they have been having problems over there, as they can only keep about half the residences in Ouaga on the electrical grid at the same time, due to the lack of some vital Part. At least, that what my source says- a Burkinabé friend whose husband is retired from the Sonabel.

I guess that two sections of the grid are doing a time-share thing with whatever vital bit that there is now only one of. In the morning, it’s plugged in on one side, so that we here on the south side of the Zogona neighbourhood have power. But that means that there’s no power to the north and in the Zone du Bois. So, at about noon, they pop the precious piece out and use it to provide electricity to the folks who were deprived all morning.

But that leaves us over here with a long, powerless, miserable afternoon and evening. The power doesn’t come back until about 10 or 11 o’clock at night, so it’s pretty dark and boring. And very hot.

The twins and their pal who was sleeping over last night played a board game by candlelight. Val and Sev sang duets from High School Musical for our entertainment.

Mostly, we complained about how hot it was. The daily temperatures here are up to about 103° most days and don’t cool off much at night. So, not even having a fan to stir the air was a bit miserable.

No, I was being brave and stoic. It was actually very, very miserable.

No TV, no computer (my battery lasts about 40 minutes, tops), no radio, not much light.
Plus, it was hot. Did I say how hot it was? It was very hot. Even my Burkinabé pals that resist the heat better than I do are complaining about how hard it is to sleep with no fan. Lots of folks are sleeping outside, which only helps a little. And with the shoe-thief still at large, we are sure not sleeping outside at my house.

Last night, almost every battery in every flashlight in our house gave out at the same time. We also burned through most of the candles. And I hate candles, anyway, as does almost every Burkinabé person I've ever met. They cause many, many house fires and deaths in this country where people have no, little or sporadic access to electricity.

I'm trying to be prepared. I went out foraging in the shops today and bought all the D-cell batteries I could find. I got enough to fill our big lantern, but that’s it.
I’m going to have to go out again and hunt around in some different shops this afternoon. (I would kiss the floor of a Walmart if one magically appeared in Ouagadougou right now)

The shops and business in the city center are all open. It’s just certain neighbourhoods that are being affected by the power cuts. So, after lunch, I’m taking the kids and going shopping for batteries. Then we’ll go visit various friends that have afternoon/evening electricity.

I hope The Part comes soon. I am about ready to jump on a plane to France and go fetch it myself.
But then, once I arrived in Paris (current temperature about 5° C ) I'd go to the Louvre, visit friends and do some shopping. I wouldn't come back to Burkina, ever.

But I'd at least make sure that The Part got loaded onto a plane and shipped to the Sonabel in Burkina.

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