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shower power

Posted Feb 14 2010 8:54am
We had a blackout yesterday. For those of you just joining the fun herea blackout on the ship is wherefor certain technical reasons totally unknown to methey have to shut off the engines for the whole day. I think there's a lot of cleaning involvedbut what it means for the general public on board is a day without electricity. Nowbefore you call me a terrible missionary for even needing electricitylet me explain one little thing: as far as water is concerned there is no such thing as gravity on this ship. Every drain (toilets included) operates on a vacuum system that sucks the water right down. No power equals no suctionoras we generally say around hereHey! My shower isn't flushing! Keep this in mindbecause it becomes important later on.

I spent the day in the company of the duty nurse pager and a really long book. It was wonderful and relaxingalbeit a little warm and stuffy. (We have portholesbut they don't openso when the air goes offit gets hot fast.) Once the engineering crew had done whatever they needed to do way down on Deck Twothe familiar hum of the engines let us know that all would soon be well. Sure enoughthe lights flickered onour fridge came to life and the reassuring sound of air whooshing through the vents greeted my ears.

I was about to jump into the showerfiguring that all was wellwhen an announcement from the Captain came on the speakers. Good evening crew. Please be aware that all vacuum systems are now operational with the exception of port side forward. WhichI'm sure was wonderful newsexcept that my cabin is most definitely located port side. Forward.

I gave up my hopes for the shower I'd been looking forward to and wandered up to Deck Five to gaze longingly ashore from the gangway. Instead of the clear night airI was greeted with an epic rainstormcompletely unexpected because it's not the raining season yet. Water fell in grey sheetsalmost rivaling the intensity of Liberian stormsand lightning lit up the skysilhouetting the cranes against the clouds. Everything smelled like wet concrete and summerand it didn't take me long to realize that this was the best shower I was going to get.

I was wet to the skin within seconds of walking down the gangwaythe warm rain beating on the top of my head and running down my face like tears of joy. The dock was two inches deep in waterand the puddle-splashing was inevitable and glorious. I felt like a little kid againhead upturned to feel the tiny fingers of water moving over my facearms outstretched to embrace it all.

There's something about rainstorms in Africa that isn't like anyplace else I've been. I know I've still got half a year herebut I'm already starting to tuck things away in the back of my headmaking a mental catalog of all the things I'll miss when this season of life is over. Rain in Africa is somewhere near the top of that list.

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