Without light

The damn lights went out around six in the evening so I lite a candle in the empty wine bottle and set about cooking dinner. This was not a romantic moment. The ingredients I had were limited since I have no refrigerator and I hadn’t been to Bamenda in a week. The local market was overrun with women selling pear tomatoes, pear tomatoes, potatoes, red onions, plantains, shriveled string beans, and avocados for less than a dime each. Using two green peppers I had kept for over a week and a few tomatoes, I cooked a quick pasta sauce for the third time that week.

Before I left Douala three weeks ago, I hunted down bags of pasta made in Italy and extra virgin olive oil bottled from a respectable European country. Sweet crackers from France never disappoint and jam from France or Britain are guaranteed to be pretty tasty. So when I arrived in the village I was stocked up with the necessities for making a decent meal. The only cheese that would survive out of a frig was the “La Vache qui rit” but with powdered milk, bottled water and the plastic cheese, I have made a decent Fettucine Alfredo…
After eating my meal alone in the dark with a glass of bottled water as a chaser, I
began the ungodly task of cleaning the dishes. With my Costco sponges and liquid detergent from Douala, I wash everything in cold water while I am boiling water on my propane gas cooker for the final rinse. The only other people who are as anal about cleanliness here are my Muslim girl friends. The girls in the Peace Corp thought I was over the top. Dishes done, again I boil water for my shower. A plastic cup and a bucket clean me up for the night. If there is any water left, I drop my dirty clothes to soak until the next day. All in the dark with a candle.

If my battery on my laptop is still alive, I can listen to music or watch an episode of Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire. Thanks to Audible I have books on my IPod so there is usually some entertainment while the lights are out. The other day I forgot to grind my morning coffee, so without electric, I suffered the next morning with tea.
Each time I return to the other world, I appreciate turning on a light, taking a hot shower and putting my dirty clothes in the washing machine. As I am sitting at my laptop writing, I am staring at a lizard crawling on my kitchen wall. Yes the lights came back on…

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