Friday, March 17, 2006

Just Another Day in Paradise

It's Friday in the Kampgrounds of Accra

First, a little background. Here on the equator, we basically have 12 hour days with minor variations. Call it sunset 6:15 pm, sunrise 6:15 am. Both events are very fast- if you blink you miss dusk and dawn- it's just light then BAM it's dark until morning when it's dark and...well you get the idea. Ted and Cooper get up at 6 in order to leave the house at 7 each day.

Today, at 5:55 am, the power went off. No big deal- life as usual. The sudden quiet woke me, and I found Ted wandering around the dark house, stepping over sleeping dogs, watching the wind whip up outside. It was whistling through the eaves like there was a blizzard outside, but we knew it was 80 degrees. We talked about what we needed power for, and decided that there wasn't really time to wait and see if the power came on by itself because the water heaters needed time to heat up for showers, so Ted headed out to the generator.

As he headed outside, the skies opened up. One second it was windy and dry, the next second there wasn't a dry spot to be found. Ted started the generator, ran back up on the laundry porch, pulled the handle on the switchbox to change the power over from the ECG grid to the generator...

And nothing happened. The switch had become nothing more than a handle. A handle that used to be connected to the house power and now was just flopping around.

So it's still dark, it's raining like the apocalypse, we have no power, no generator, and two dogs who have, by now, woken up and started following us everywhere with pathetic faces that said, "Hello?!!?? Haven't been outside since 9:30 last night! Gotta GO!"

On to the ever-present Plan B.

Ted puts on swim trunks, takes a bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap and heads out to the back yard. With a lusty BRRRRR! he steps out into the rain and starts showering in the runoff from the roof. Not happy with the rate of flow or the temperature, he changes plans and jumps in the pool, which by comparison feels like a bathtub. Then he climbs back out, washes his hair, makes a pass at soaping up and rinses off in the roof runoff. As a final step to "clean and shiny" he jumped back in the pool and let the chlorine kill any residual B.O.

Meanwhile, Cooper is wandering around in rain-dimmed daylight, eating a banana and trying to decide how to have peanut butter toast with no electricity. He decides to go for cereal instead. The dogs have begun to follow him around since he is the one who normally lets them out in the morning, and they hope he is brighter than we are.

The rain continues coming down in sheets just to make sure we totally understand that the Harmattan (Saharan dust storms that blow through here in December, January, and February ahead of the rainy season) is well and truly over for this year. Ted gets ready for work without shaving (electric razor), Cooper gets ready for school with goofy hair (no blow dryer), and about five minutes to seven, the power comes back on.

Welcome to Ghana. Your Friday has begun.

Some hours later, the dogs have been out, the rain has stopped, and our terrifically reliable generator guys have installed a new switch for the power supply. Life is back to normal, except for a slight shampoo smell in the back yard... :-)