Written by: The Bridge on Friday, April 27th, 2018
7 days ago Paul Vetter and Clara Basel left for home, Canada, Silverwinds Colony. They arrived safely and in a timely manner, no extreme plane delays or other issues. Now they can enjoy NEPA (electricity) all day and night long! Wow! If the nights are too hot here you wake every half hour and look at the fan silently pleading, “come on, just 10 minutes!” There are just no words to describe the ridiculousness of the NEPA situation. In my head I have this picture of a group of people standing around in a huge power plant, laughing diabolically, and randomly pulling a big switch to turn power on and off. It’s SO random, i just have to shake my head, it’s hard to describe and imagine. It will seriously sometimes flicker on and off in 2 seconds. Sometimes it goes on for half a day (wow, what’s happening!!?), sometimes 20 minutes, then after an hour of being off, 5 minutes on, then off again. But one thing is certain, MOST of the time its off. And the whole cherry on top is, they send bills just as you please!!! The nerve! The bills come regularly even though they don’t fulfil on their end. I think Palmgrove once decided to not pay, then NEPA came and cut the wires or something and we had to pay a big sum to connect it again. It seems they have so much power that no one can do anything with them. Corruption and not caring for your fellow man is the norm here with the big companies that have money. So i just wonder what NEPA is doing with all the money people are paying them for doing nothing?? I guess sticking it in their pockets, building huge houses and buying cars. It would go a loooooong way toward developing Nigeria, giving people employment and cutting down on the sitting around, if there was a consistent power supply, but I’m guessing they can’t be bothered which such minor details.
Fortunately for things like flushing toilets we don’t need NEPA. Our water supply comes from our own bore hole, which is a new one, down by the old Yamilena factory. The people here tell us that there is oil in the water, so we don’t drink it directly. We buy our drinking water, bottled and government approved. Its not exactly delicious, like good ol’ Crystal Spring water, but we squeeze in juice from limes which grow here and i put apple cider vinegar in mine, but Chris can’t stand it. I can find the ACV in local supermarkets, I was pleasantly surprised to discover. I use the bore hole water for cooking, making sure i cook it before making coffee or soup or anything. Don’t ask me what that will help for the oil , but i’m crossing my fingers there’s none in there. In order to have water in the first place, we need to run the big generator. If enough days go by without running it, the tank will be empty. Uh oh! Turn your faucet on for water to brush your teeth or wash dishes with or to take a much needed and anticipated shower, and nothing comes out. Having to use the stream to bathe and wash clothes is undesirable because the water is not pure and can give you skin rashes, etc. We definitely can’t drink it. So, running Palmgrove’s big generator for 4 hours each evening, sometimes leaving out one or two days, keeps the tank full enough for the faucets to work. But sometimes its amazing how fast it gets empty . It costs 10,000 naira, to run it for 4 hours for 2 consecutive evening. That would be approximately 30 US dollars. So, NEPA and water. Two heavily discussed topics here. But nobody can do much to improve either situation. Just have to make do with what you got. It’s easy to bear with the situation if only we are feeling well and healthy. That is a constant struggle. Malaria is always hovering on the horizon, since the rains are early this year, so are the mosquitos. The heat is something you only get used to to a certain degree, its usually so hot and humid it feels like you are trying to walk under water. This in itself makes projects that would take a day to finish at home a week to complete here, considering you have to search and probably go out to town to buy parts needed for various jobs. But then there are cool days where you can do as much as at home.
Some of the projects Chris is helping with are the Payloader, re-roofing the chicken barn, and putting up solar panels in houses. The loader has been standing in the Mill for a few years now, with the engine out. I think they’ve got the engine fixed up and running and now it needs to be lifted back in. Yesterday there was a guy here who washed it down nicely. He did it because we had to rent his water pressure pump. Paul Vetter fixed the motor on ours, but when we tried using it, the water side of it didn’t work. Sighhhhh…..
The chicken barn roof is almost finished. First the puem took down all the tiles which were crumbling and letting rain thru to rot the rafters, and then the carpenter fixed the rafters. The kaput pieces of rafter the women eagerly grabbed for firewood, a constant struggle, keeping their wood fires burning to cook food with. Chris and the steward, Udo Imoh, have discussed buying burners and propane tanks for those women whose families don’t already have one. It would easily halve the time the women and children spend foraging for wood and when there is none to be found they have to buy some. So, roof is looking tons better, mostly white with some green and grey mixed in. The tin came on the recent container and has been extremely useful. Almost all the houses in Palmgrove are roofed with tin from containers, it was donated by a few colonies, I believe. Thank you very much!
The solar panels also came on the container and they are great for this country. It is a reliable source of energy, you can charge your electric gadgets, even in the night! All they take is proper maintenance and someone who knows what they are doing to set them up. Chris and Emase put the first one up in the Church, connecting 6 lights. They have morning service 3 times a week and evening service 2X and go there with smoky, smelly lanterns. Now they have bulbs to use, thanks to the solar panel. Chris learned a lot putting that one up, and it took quite some doing until it was done. Now they have almost finished one house, and Emase is doing most of the work with one other person helping him. Occasionally Chris will drop in and help and check up on them. Most of the houses are so dark that you need a flashlight to go down the hall, because there is no power, usually. Now they can have some light without depending on NEPA.
And so it continues in the land of Africa: as they would say Kadi-o!