As a kid, a power outage was an opportunity for adventure, fun and mystery to break into our lives unexpectedly. The candles would be brought out, and if we were lucky and it was winter time (e.g. the great Ice Storm in Spokane in 1996) we would huddle under blankets around the wood stove, playing card games or board games for hours. It was always an adventure, and some of my best memories took place when the power was out.
It turns out as an adult, however, that power outages aren’t nearly as exciting. As foreigners accustomed to a relatively-healthy power grid, one of the difficulties of life in Kyrgyzstan is the frequent power outages. Our first year here the power was usually shut off every night from late evening (midnight, maybe) until 5am or so. Our heat would click on and start making noise, which would usually wake us up. This was a great time, because our bedroom would start warming up from the low forties (F) to the mid-to-upper forties! Various parts of the country experience these “planned” outages with regularity. (Incidentally, because of these planned outages, it is always a good idea to live in a building where some government official lives, since their power supply dodges these irritations.)
Karakol experiences lots of unplanned power outages. Over the past week, we have had the power go off every day, with a few days trying for the double, triple, or home run. Maybe the power company here tries to hit for the cycle each week?
Another problem with power outages as an adult is that the timing isn’t ever right. As a kid, the power outage gets you out of school, or out of cleaning the basement, or something along those lines. A power outage could never interrupt the good things in life, like hiking in the woods (of course, now that I think about it, feeding the sheep didn’t require electricity). As an adult, the situation is the opposite, and the power outage always interrupts something important (such as school, cleaning the house… wait, this sounds like the same list!). Last week when our power went out it, here were a few of the highlights:
1. Interrupted the last 10 minutes of a movie I was watching – twice! (I was watching in Russian, so this is called “studying!”)
2. Interrupted cooking lunch – twice!
3. Ruined nearly-finished downloads that took hours to complete – twice!
So, we are learning to adjust our schedules and our routines to accommodate the system around us.
It is certainly a learning process!