Electricity in many houses in Zambia works differently than it does in the United States. Many houses are on a prepaid meter (meaning you have to pay for the electricity before using it). Our temporary house is in a new apartment complex and the prepaid meters were just installed yesterday (until then, the electricity worked similar to the US - a bill came at the end of the month). When the electricity company installed the meter, they put 50 units of electricity on it and assured me that we would have enough to last for a few days. They also explained to me how to add more units.
At 5:45 this morning, I awoke to a clicking sound. Our electricity had run out. So, we headed to the electricity store (located at a local mall) to buy more. When I arrived, I was told that our account had not yet been activated, meaning that we could not yet buy more electricity. The employee told me that by early afternoon, I should be able to add electricity to my account. The girls and I did a little shopping and then headed home.
When we got back to our apartment, the landlord was outside. I told him about my trip and he told me that he would add more electricity as all bills are included in our rent. He assured me that it would be taken care of within an hour. Although we have only been in Zambia a week, I knew that "an hour" really meant either later today or tomorrow.
Because the house was hot and we needed to pick up dinner (no electricity means no stove and no oven), the girls and I returned to the mall in the afternoon. Anticipating a night of no electricity, we bought a battery-operated lantern. We also enjoyed some playtime and chocolate cake at the coffee shop.
When we returned home, the electricity was still out and it was getting dark. I was thankful that we had purchased the lantern as we used both it and our flashlights to see around the apartment. Abigail loved using the lantern and flashlight and explained to me that it was "just like Caillou" (there is an episode where they lose power and use flashlights to see).
While we waited for the electricity to come back on, the head maid came over and stayed with us. While she was here, I got the chance to talk to her and discovered that her sister lives in Topeka, Kansas (not far from my hometown). What a small world!
Finally, around 7:30 this evening, the electricity came back on. The girls and I enjoyed the adventure, but we are glad to have lights and air conditioning again!