Last night as we were prepared for our first night without power, I told B, “Africa ain’t for sissies.”
Much of the city was without power yesterday. One neighbor’s building has even been without water for days… double whammy! That leaves her and her husband to shower via the bottled water method. (In preparation for such events, we are advised to fill empty water bottles with tap water so that you may shower/flush toilets when water is unavailable.) With our water working, I was counting my blessings… though powerless, we could flush, shower and cook since our stovetop runs off a propane tank. However, we needed to procure a few things before the sun went down… namely, candles and matches.
For the first time, I went to the Cecado by myself to gather the supplies. (Linz conquers previously unremarkable errand!) Although the store is within walking distance, I felt accomplished going alone. Walking with money and my cell phone in my pocket isn’t something I am 100% comfortable with, yet. Then, there’s the checking out process…
Since I don’t have a good grasp of my numbers yet, paying and handing over cash can be a little awkward. Usually, at this local place… the checker ends up rifling through my available funds and taking all my coins, haha. We have learned that Gabonese aren’t big on change. As in, the surplus of money you are owed when you pay with a note greater than the total. From what we’ve experienced, you’re lucky if they get you within a few dollars of what you are actually owed. There have been times when we’ve got nothing back at all aside from a look that says, “get lost,” haha. I don’t know if small bills are rare or what, but stores big and small get visibly irritated when you can’t pay with exact change – which for us, is almost all the time. How do you give change when you rarely receive change? Another time…
So I did it… I got there, I found what I needed… I bought 2 packs of taper candles, 2 boxes of matches, 2 cans of kidney beans and a 6 pack of big waters. Total 8,630 (about $17). As I am finishing up paying, I look up and realize the bagger guy is outside with all my items. DANGIT! He expects to be paid for the assistance I didn’t request. Luckily, I was given a 500 note back with my “change” (about $1) so I gave it to him and he released my groceries.
I made it home with enough light to get Diego outside and to start making dinner!! We ate quietly with our provisions of candles and matches close by. Just as we were losing the last rays of light, the lights flicked on. SCORE. Weirdly enough, the WIFI was magically working just before the power came on? Then as the power returned, the WIFI went to poo. I asked B how this could be possible? We agreed never to question why things are working. Reminder again to maintain an attitude of gratitude. So our provisions didn’t end up being used, but we figured, hey – at least we’re prepared for next time.
‘Next time’ ended up being this morning… no power until noon, and then again this evening just as B got home from work. Once everything was back on, I checked my email to find a detailed schedule of outages for the entire week. These were planned!?!?! Granted, they were inconvenient, but dare I say I was impressed with the power company. Damn if the black outs weren’t dead on schedule!
Surprises, I’m learning, are something you can count on here.
Takeaway this evening? All is relative. Last month, I would be put off when What Not To Wear was overrun with Say Yes to The Dress. Today, ‘irritating’ is no power and recent threat of water shortages. I’ll deal with that when it comes. Until then, this week’s interruptions have served as a nice reminder that uncertainty is a part of life, and the healthiest place to be is the moment. Not fearful of the future, or focused on the past. I’m working on this.
Libreville is keeping me on my toes, and though parts are difficult, I am grateful for the realness of my life right now. I feel more in touch with myself and my precious family of Brandon & Diego than I have been in a long while. My emotions run the gamete, content to frustrated, triumphant to nervous, laughter to tears. But it’s all real man, and teeming with perspective.
Currently missing: you. dryers. a car.
Currently grateful for: electricity. bottled water. wifi.
Current Mantras: Here, Now.