When I first started traveling I learned pretty quickly that electricity is not a consistent thing in many parts of the world. I also learned that this drives us Americans nuts because it’s never even crossed our minds that we could walk over to a light switch, flip it on and nothing would happen.
Knowing that was one of my biggest frustrations when I lived in Albania back in 2000 I told Derek many stories hoping to prepare him for his first “ska drita” day. (Ska drita means no electricity in Albanian.)
Well it all started when we moved into our new home in Durres last Friday. We’d had a pretty crazy day and finally got our bags into the house around six in the evening. We are turning lights on and moving things in the appropriate rooms. We are looking for the heaters because the house was cold as it’s been sitting empty in the winter. (Everything is build out of concrete so it can feel as cold inside as it is outside until you heat it up for a few days.)
And just like that the house goes dark!
Everyone freezes and we scramble to find a flash light. This house is really dark because there are black out shades on every window. This feature is wonderful for sleeping in but horrible when the electricity goes off! Our landlord Ledio calmly says it’s probably because it’s winter time and everyone is running their heaters. We decide to go have a coffee and wait it out. (That’s what we always did when I was here before.)
We hit the hallway and see lights at the neighbor’s house.
So now we know it’s not a city wide or country wide problem, it’s isolated to just our apartment. I felt better about this but I could sense Derek did not. The first ska drita day was playing it’s little games on my Sweetie. I knew it would pass only because after it happens a thousand times you learn, no matter how stubborn or pampered you are.
Ledio says it’s probably because we turned everything on at once and overloaded the circuit. Him and Derek head downstairs to flip the switch. Danny is in the hall and I stay in the house. They’d pick a switch to flip and we’d yell down if it was us.
The guys must have went downstairs twenty five times to flip the switch that night.
We couldn’t figure out exactly was causing the problem so we decided to turn everything off except two heaters and go to bed. I was completely out of it when Danny comes in our room in the middle of the night to tell us the electricity went off and he was freezing. I kicked into gear and grabbed all the blankets and moved Danny into our room and closed the door.
Picture Danny, Derek and I all in one little Albanian bed.
I crack up thinking about it now! I’m ready to sleep and so is Danny but I can sense Derek is pissed. Yep that’s what it will do to you. It will make you mad when things you’ve always had disappear. You see the thing that makes ska drita even more frustrating is that when you have no lights, you have no water either. It’s all connected.
Derek is listing off all the possible solutions and it was sounding like his favorite solution was to look for another house.
I have to admit I wanted to laugh but I knew that wouldn’t help the situation. I also wanted to try to explain that the fact we found a house in a week was setting a new Albanian record. If you’ve never traveled outside the U.S. it’s very difficult to understand just how much slower other countries move. It’s not slower, it’s so slow Americans don’t feel like anything is actually happening. Danny, knowing his brother (and that we are not going to get anymore sleep) says, let’s go fix this.
I felt like I was living with two MacGyvers.
They are flipping stitches, testing rooms and obviously not stopping until a solution is found. They discovered that Danny’s heater was causing problems as well as the heater in the living room. I’m not exactly sure what they did but they got everything else in the house to work. We called Ledio (who I’m sure is very happy to hear from us again) and he decides to bring over some various electrical items to see if this problem can be fixed once and for all.
We assumed our positions.
Derek and Ledio were downstairs. Danny in the hallway and I was in the house. The next thing I know Danny and I hear a LOUD noise. We yell downstairs and ask if everything is alright. There was a pause and then an unconvincing, Yeah! Next thing we know the lights for the entire building go out and we wait.
We later found out that the big boom came from the guys pulling out our wires before turning off the main breaker. Derek said he saw a ball of fire and jumped back! Ledio apparently got a little surge but not more than he could handle. (This is why I love living overseas because you just don’t get these kinds of experiences when you’re at home.)
A few tweaks here, some electrical tape there and we had lights and heaters working in every room.
We slept well.
I made the guys French toast.
And we all had hot showers that morning.
All was right in the world.
So the next time you turn on the lights or turn up the heater, think of us. ;)
Hungry for More, Monique Alvarez p.s. If there are typos, spelling or grammar mistakes in this post don’t worry about. Those are the kinds of things I’ve worried about for FAR too long. It’s time to just get it out and who cares if it’s not perfect, it’s from the heart!