Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Power in Nepal

Before I ever left for Nepal I knew the electricity would be weird. I expected to only have the power on for a few hours a day. But all the talk in the world doesn't really prepare you for experiencing it and living with it. We have a schedule right now with different hours each day when the power is off. Sunday is my favorite day because I get power from 6pm-10am the next morning. Each day's schedule is different from the day before. At the beginning of the week we have power at good times, like before the sun comes up and when the sun is going down. Times when you would notice that you do or don't have power. The end of the week is when we get power from 12-4 in the afternoon and you don't think about it because the sun is out and you don't really need it for lights. I am definitely a lover of light. I find myself running around the house turning every light on when the power comes on just to brighten things up. Especially when I get power in the dusk/evening hours!

We have a backup battery which when we first got here to us seemed to work great. It would turn on about 3 lights at a time one in each room. They were a little dim, but I figured, "Hey, this is Nepal. What do I expect? No big deal." If you wanted a 4th light on you had to turn off one light so you could still only have 3 lights on at a time. We have some outlets around the house that work off of the battery as well. It took us a while to find them. I actually just found another one and we've been here for 2 weeks.

You can't plug anything into the battery outlet that gets hot or uses too much power. You can charge a laptop but that's about it. Nothing too strenuous like a curling iron or a projector. If it gets hot its too much for it to handle.

So for the first 3 maybe 4 days we were here I kept my hair in a pony tail. I straighten my hair every day if I want it down. The only times we had power when we first arrived was in the middle of the night or in the afternoon. I didn't know I had to "plan" to do my hair. The night before our first "fellowship" here I did my hair thinking ahead so that it would be nice the next day. I never had to do that before.

Doing laundry is another thing you have to think of. Our washer takes about an hour to wash a load of clothes. When you only have about 3 hours of electricity a day you have to be on your toes to get it done. It's been pretty interesting doing that.

So all went well for about the first week. It must have been Nepal welcoming us here. After about a week we got an extra hour of electricity. That was a nice surprise. I didn't realize if they can give it, they can also take it away. haha.

Last Wednesday night I was on my toes--and I'm very thankful I was. Our fellowship starts at 5 so I made dinner ahead of time so that when we got back about 6:30 I wouldn't have to do anything but heat the meat for a minute. We walked inside about that time and less than 5 minutes our power went out. Not just the power but our battery backup as well. We had our first candle lit dinner, or flashlight/headlamp dinner. It was very romantic! At least the kids couldn't see the vegetables I hid in the meat. That was probably one of our best meals yet.

It turns out that we had accidentally plugged our refrigerator into a battery backup outlet and it blew out the remainder of our battery. A day or two later we got it replaced. And Praise to the Lord the batteries were 37% off that day! The really exciting thing is that our lights are really bright now. What we thought was just "Nepal lighting" was actually our dying battery. So even though we had to spend money on something we weren't planning too it actually turned out better.

So everything had been going fairly smooth with the power until this weekend. I was excited to have Sunday come around  where I would get 16 hours of electricity in a row (even though I slept through most of it). But that day was odd. The power came on at the right time but went off about an hour later. Then 15 minutes after it turned back on, but this time anything connected to the battery wouldn't come on. Then it would go back and forth between battery and electricity every half hour. It was very strange.

Since then we have also had a weird wattage to our electricity. Our washer has a guard on it, where if the power wattage is too high or too low it won't come on, this is to keep our washer from blowing up. The only problem now is that instead of having a possibility of 3 hours a day to do laundry it's way less because of the weirdness of everything. Some days we get a lot done. Others we don't, but we don't stress about it. I figure everyone here is going through the same thing, no big deal, if they can do it, so can I.

We are staying on top of everything the best we can, having fun learning to adapt to the power and other things, and enjoying just being with one another. It's a lot of fun.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My first Day Grocery Shopping.

So I found out quickly that taking a taxi, even though one trip is cheap about $3, it adds up quickly. So my friend, Sheryl, took me shopping around town where we live. In about a 5-7 minute walking distance from our house. She goes shopping for 2 weeks at a time and I didn't think I was up for that. My goal was to go shopping for just a few days worth of food. I had a little list of things to buy.

Before I met up with Sheryl I took a walk to the kitchen store and was able to buy a ladle, small plates, and a stool. After walking back up the hill to my house, I thought to myself, "How in the world does she shop for two weeks? I'm already tired from carrying 5 items."

When I arrived at her house she had a large suitcase on wheels. Very clever indeed! I brought some large bags from the states about the size of reusable shopping bags.

Shopping around town is very different than the States where you can go to one store for everything. They do have a "Walmart" like store down the road but you have to take a taxi, and you don't really get interaction with the local people like you do if you shop right here.

So we left about 11am. First we stopped at the meat store and told them what we wanted and that we would be back later to pick it up. I ordered some Buffalo--which is sort of like ground beef. (Turned out great and no one knew the difference.) We then headed to the Small grocery store. Seems easy enough until you realize that you have quite a decision to make when staring at the toilet paper. In the states you can see how many sheets are on a roll and figure out how much it is and what you want. Here it's mostly in Nepali and I had no idea what to buy.

I stood looking at all the soaps wondering what hand soap do I get, what dish soap to get, where is the laundry soap, then which one should I buy? All of the cookies are in weird packages so even picking out a simple snack is difficult because you don't want to buy something that isn't going to taste good, yet how do you know what to buy. Growing up in the States you eat Keebler cookies or Oreos or the knock-off brand because that's what your mom bought, and her mom, and her mom before that. You don't usually have to think about things like that.

You stare at the cereal and see Special K cereal but with slightly different packaging and "in puree sauce" on the front and wonder do I want to spend $3 on that? How do you even have dry "puree sauce" in a cereal.

I wound up asking Sheryl what to buy for everything I needed and taking her advice without question since she has been here and "tried" all these things already. I can't say how grateful I am to have her here to learn from.

I walked down the flour, sugar, spice aisle and picked up every bag to find the one that might be flour. I finally found the bag that was flour, I think, Under manufacture information it said flour mill, so I figured that must be what it was. After finally making some purchases we moved on to the rice store where I also bought garlic, then back to the meat shop, then to another produce stand to finish my produce purchases.

I was pleased to find the produce was super cheap. I purchased a pound of green beans, broccoli, and grape tomatoes and paid under $2 for all of it.

After we dropped off our groceries at home we went out to our "Walmart" to buy the rest of the items that I needed. All in all with another stop to try and find a french press for coffee our shopping trip took 6 hours! And that was just to get things I needed for just a few days.

This week, I have made my shopping list and meal plan and am going to try to shop for a weeks worth of groceries. Hopefully I can at least do it in half the time this time around!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My birthday

Today is my birthday.  It's actually the 2nd birthday I've spent in Nepal. Last year at this time I was here on a 10 day trip with my cousin to check everything out.  This morning as I was tip-Toeing out to the kitchen passed the kids rooms thinking they were sleeping and wanting to keep it that way, I heard "Happy Birthday, Mom" from every room.
Luke made me breakfast and gave me a card from our church saying Happy Birthday. They gave it to Luke before  we left 2 weeks ago. He saved it and I was very surprised to see it. Luke made me eggs and bacon--yes bacon. It's quite expensive, but it was a nice treat.

When the kids woke up we made a cake together. They each took a turn dumping in an ingredient for the cake. We made quite a mess, but it was fun. Now, we just got a gas oven. It has an electric starter on it. We only have power a few hours each day. Today it doesn't come on until 10am, but we go to our church fellowship at 11. I wasn't sure 1 hour was enough time. So, we tried starting the oven with our clicker thingy, but we could only get the broiler part to come on. I thought surely if I turn it on low the cake will cook just fine. It cooked beautifully. After about 40 minutes I pulled it out. The knife came out clean, so after a minute or two of cooling I decide to flip it out of the pan.

Now, since the broiler is cooking from the top down, apparently the very bottom wasn't cooked and I didn't know it till it was too late. When I flipped it over it started oozing out every where. So I scooped it back in the pan the best I could. The only problem now is that it's still an hour till the power comes on, so I can cook it right. But the only thing to do is wait.

At 10am, I stuck it into the oven. It seems to be cooking right, just a little disfigured. We made banana pudding last night, so if the cake is a flop and looks horrible we will turn it into a trifle--mixing it with the leftover pudding and frosting I made.

Now for the frosting....
I wanted a chocolate butter cream icing. The only problem here is that it's still chilly out, so my butter at room temperature is hard. I chopped it up and put it next to the stove with a pot of boiling water next to it to generate a little heat, but not enough to melt the butter. It worked perfectly. Until I moved it away from the stove and mixed it with the other ingredients--especially the milk, which was, yes, cold. So now we are back to hard butter. I can't find my hand mixer (remember no electricity). This is an old-fashioned hand mixer my mom found for me. After looking everywhere, I have come to the decision that I left it in America. :( (Mom, maybe you can find it at Christy's and send it with Justin.)

Have no fear, I will use my Tupperware chopper that has a mixer blade...but of course it's too thick. So then double boiler style (Thanks Grandma Joyce, for teaching me this.) I then proceed to melt all of the frosting, so that we wouldn't have chunks of butter in it. I have put it in the freezer and I hope that it comes out fine!

It is definitely very interesting getting used to limited power and resources, but I am not discouraged. I am actually enjoying this adventure.