Word of the week: Survival

We were without power for more than 48 hours. And it was cold with continuous rain throughout that period.

Let that just sink in for a little bit.

What would you do without power for that long? How would you survive?

Our state owned power utility instituted what has become known as loadshedding on Thursday. At precisely 8pm, our power supply was cut. Restoration was scheduled for half past midnight, but we have battery backups, so we went to sleep as normal.

The first sign that all was not well was when we woke up at 5:30. No power. And the relentless rain had started overnight. We checked to see if we had enough gas in our camping gas cooker and decided that we would be good for another few hours. We didn’t check much else because we honestly thought that power would be restored sometime that day. But come that night, still no power.

The battery backup for our alarm system was the first to go. Luckily the electric fence system was still working and we have physical barriers as well. Then the battery backup for our driveway gate went and now we have to slide it open and closed manually. In the rain. Today, the electric fence battery went.

Today we had to decide to either eat what is in the fridge or throw it out tomorrow. Because of the cold weather, the contents of the fridge have remained relatively cold until today. The contents of the freezer are still fine right now, mainly because there is no need to open and close the doors several times a day.

We have been able to keep our mobile devices charged because my laptop was fully charged. And the last resort is to recharge in the car.

We also have a couple of solar lamps and lamps that are charged by battery. These have been real life savers because we only light candles once those have run down. Before, we used to have candles in every room. Great ambience but not much light.

We used the camping gas cooker mainly to boil water. Once the water boiled, we empty it into a flask which keeps the water hot for up to 4 hours. To stay warm, we have been drinking copious cups of tea. I have also used the boiled water to wash my hair and to give myself a 15 second warm shower. I was sorry I did that, because I literally froze while towel drying myself! Last night we ordered in. Chinese. The food was hot and tasty, really hit the spot. Today we reheated soup from the freezer. It was a good night for soup.

For most of today I ranted at the power utility. I was cold. I wanted a warm shower. I wanted to cook something warm to eat. I logged faults on their website. I asked for updates on Twitter. I checked their website for updates. I called the call centre and held on for 70 minutes without getting through. I thought the music that they played while on hold was very appropriate. It reminded me of funerals. I was like a woman possessed. At midday, I finally gave up and fell asleep in my goose down jacket and sheep skin slippers, I was cold and exhausted.

I felt better when I woke up. I ate a banana and the leftover mango pudding from the fridge. And then I posted a thank you on the utility’s twitter account for the technicians who have been working in the cold and rain. I finally realized that they too have families to go home to. I remembered to be grateful for the people who have to work under these trying conditions. After all, it’s not their fault that the infrastructure is old and not properly maintained.

Rain is forecasted for another two days. The power utility says that they will continue to loadshed for the duration of the heavy rains. I hope that we get to enjoy some power before it gets switched off again. Or perhaps the sun will shine 😊

Until next time ☕️

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