5 November, 21 hours
I think that the rains have come. It looked like a storm this evening, dark, billowing clouds, and wind shaking the trees, and cool breezes, a few of which even found their way into my room. I had bread in the oven during the evening, so I took a chance and didn’t water my garden this evening, and as I listen to the rolling thunder and rain falling on the roof (anywhere between hard, steady drops to light sprinkles that I almost can’t hear over the sound of my fan), I think that was the right choice.
I have been waiting anxiously for the rains. It has been hot, hot, hot. (I think Mary-Ann said that two Thursdays ago it was 42C. Mostly I try not to look at their thermometer; it’s just better not to know.) Two weeks ago the transformer connecting us to the power grid blew, so we only had generator power, and the genset can’t pump water and provide power simultaneously, so we had very little power and rarely water even at the faucet behind the house, and had to fill our buckets at Zambezi House, or, more frequently, at the faucet by LITA, where I teach. It’s not far, but still quite a trek if that’s your only source of water.
Thankfully the new generator was delivered, and both the power and water situations have been much better, but power is still unusually sporadic for reasons I have been unable to determine. We lose power in the evenings more often than not, and while the generator usually comes on, wireless almost never functions on generator power (it’s set lower than regular power, somehow; the lights flicker, too). There were two days this past week that were absolutely AWFUL, heatwise, so bad that it didn’t cool down at all at night, at least, not inside my room, which is admittedly an unventilated oven under a metal roof, and one of them the power was on and off (mostly off) all night, so I didn’t even have a fan. It was so bad that I turned off my alarm (work officially starts at eight, but there’s almost never anyone there then, and if I’m not teaching, no one cares, or perhaps even notices, whether I arrive on time or not, especially not with most of the bosses off in northern Zambia somewhere), dumped my top sheet in a bucket of water, and managed at least a few hours of sleep. I dragged myself out of bed at 8:30 (half an hour late already, and upwards of two hours later than I usually get up), still exhausted, but resigned to not getting any more sleep. (Though I think I actually had slept, at least a little, because I didn’t hear Moses, David or Clare moving around and getting breakfast.) The best part of this story is that when I rolled into work at 9:15, no one was there and the door was locked. It took another half hour for some of my coworkers to arrive and figure out where the keys were.
And ma we, it was HOT. The server room is not (yet) air conditioned, and we didn’t have internet most of last weekend because one of the servers gave out due to the excessive heat.
It has been thankfully cooler these past few days, although still really hot, and I have been thinking longingly of rain. I’m warned that everything gets horribly, horribly muddy in rainy season, and that it’s very possible to find yourself abruptly horizontal in three inches of mud, but I think that I’ll take mud over heat. I have almost never been unable to sleep because of excessive mud (and I think that the two or three times it’s happened have all been while tent camping), but cannot say the same about excessive heat. So I’ll take the rains, thanks, even if I did leave that one shirt out on the line.
The upshot of all this is that I still haven’t written the post about camping at Lockinvar two weekends ago, or the one about the Lwiindi Ceremony mumblemumble ago, but it’s not going to happen tonight, either, because they’re both picture-intensive, and it’s extra bother to write picture-intensive posts when there’s no internet. Anyway, it’s nearly bedtime.
The other excitement in my life is that I am not moving (or shifting, as they say here). I first heard the rumor about shifting from Mary-Ann and Guillermo, close to a month ago on my way back from Mboole: Everyone is moving out of The Wooden House, and they’re moving in teachers for the innovative school (who currently live half an hour’s walk away, if you walk like a muguwa, which is to say (relatively) quickly), and was I moving, and would I be in Zambezi, and had anyone bothered to tell me? It took another week and a half for me to confirm that Fred and Esther were indeed moving, and Esther said that I would be moving ‘if I wanted to.’ When? ‘Soon.’
And a week went by, and nothing happened (this was now the week after Mary-Ann and Guillermo said Fred and Esther would be moving), and last week was going by, and then yesterday they up and moved, and the whole household is now in the other half of the duplex with Mary-Ann and Guillermo, where my garden is (I checked with Esther, and she says we can share it. It’s pretty sorry these days, anyway, since I didn’t really water it that whole week when there wasn’t any electricity). And then today, Mercy et al. moved out of the back apartment into Zambezi, so I just assumed that it was a matter of time until I moved, too, and wondered if anyone would bother to tell me before a truck showed up at my door, and decided that I would move when I moved, and it wasn’t really that important, although I couldn’t help but wonder if the female American who was supposed to show up and move in with Lidewÿ last night was in fact me and no one had bothered to tell me.
But there were some guys wandering around counting rooms and occupants after Mercy et al. left, and while I didn’t know who they were, they seemed to be in some sort of authority position, so I asked them if I was moving and if so when (you might say, “But Miriam, why didn’t you ask before?” And I did try. Clare said that it was in the air but not confirmed, and no one at the office knew anything, not even the bosses (actually, Abraham was pumping me for my rumors), and my actual boss is on leave and doesn’t know what’s going on . . . Eric and Kathy visited on Tuesday and decided that the reason I don’t know what’s going on or who’s in charge is that they’re restructuring everything and not even the Zambians know what’s going on), and the most in-charge guy told me, “Ah, you, I think you can stay. You’re here until when? January?”
“Ah. Well, then, perhaps, something might come up — but next year. Not until next year. If something comes up, we will tell you.”
I don’t actually know who they were. But I’ve decided to switch from assuming that I am moving at some point in the indeterminate future to assuming that I’m not moving, at least not for the next two months. It’s less bother to not move, but I am a little disappointed: Zambezi House has indoor bathrooms, and hot running water, if you’re lucky. And toilet seats. (Actually, I discovered the other week that the Mercy et al. unit’s bathroom has a toilet seat, too. Perhaps, if I’m not moving, it would be worth the effort to convince Hospitality to install one in my bathroom, too. They could fix the lights while they’re at it.)
Moses is going back to Zimbabwe this week, so he’s well out of it, but I still don’t know if Clare is moving or staying, or if David will take over Moses’s room or move to Zambezi or get kicked out when Moses leaves. I’ll find out, I guess.
And power is back again. There might be internet to post this. Or not.
At time of posting:
N.B. not that it’s directly relevant to most of you: Since Zambia doesn’t do daylight savings time, I’m now seven hours different from the east coast of the US, not six.
For reasons unknown, we haven’t had water in the house since Friday night, when we had it just at bedtime, and Moses says that there isn’t even any at the back tap now.
Also, a bird just tried to fly into my window.