Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today I feel like I live in a third world country . . .

I realize, of course, that I always do live in a third world country, but honestly, I am so spoiled compared to almost everyone around me that I don't feel too deprived.  But tonight, with my kids armed with flashlights and with candles placed strategically around the house, in a completely quiet neighborhood, I feel like I live in a third world country.

Every Thursday the power goes out.  There are surprise days here and there, but we can set our clocks by the Thursday power outages.  They start by 8 or 9 o'clock and go until around 3.  We have an inverter, so when the power goes out we still have lights and can use fans.  But it does usually mean that we don't have water during the time that it's out because the water pump doesn't work.  We also can't use the washing machine, the toaster, the microwave, a hair-dryer, or anything else with a heating element.  And we get to think of our milk and groceries in the fridge all going bad.  We're gone most of the time the water's out and typically not too affected by it, but it does affect our maid (who comes on Thursdays) when she's trying to clean and do laundry and sometimes can't do much of either.

Today when we woke up, the power was already out.  We hadn't noticed overnight because the fans switched over automatically to our back-up power.  That was a concern only because it almost never happens (and because we can't shut off the air conditioner in our room when the power is out--when it comes back on, so does the air).  It was also a bummer because our maid usually gets the laundry in before the power goes out.  But when I called her from the school, she told me that at least there was water to clean.  We realized that the maintenance guys from the school must have hooked our water up to our inverter, so the power outage affected us less than usual.

But when it reached 5:00 and the power still wasn't on, we started to get a little uneasy--well, OK, I did.  An inverter only lasts for so long before it needs to get charged again.  We've never been on it for a full 24 hours, and I really don't want to play the How long can this thing last? game.  It went out sometime overnight, and it's now 9:00.  We're approaching our longest time on the inverter.  And on top of that, the water pump has been coming on all day long and using the inverter power.  So we started switching off everything in the house.  We have 2 fans on upstairs for the kids, because it's hot with no breeze, but we made them read with their wind-able IKEA flashlights (best invention ever) instead of their lamp and we turned off every other light and fan in the house.

I don't know what noises we usually hear, but it's a marked difference tonight.  It feels peaceful and weird: I hear crickets and notice every car that goes by, and I hear my neighbors talking quietly.  Occasionally, the street dogs go crazy when someone walks by.  But the later it gets, the less that happens.

Probably the power will come on by morning, I pray that it does, it always has before.  But the thing about living here is that nothing ever feels for sure.  And we need to save our power as much as possible so that we can have water and fans--and our house alarm.

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