Recently my husband and I went away for our anniversary to a country inn for the night. This inn was touted as being the best country getaway in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, and it was famous for its outstanding cuisine. So in great anticipation for a lovely evening, we made our reservation.
In spite of the torrential rain, we were looking forward to our evening. However, when we arrived at the “best country inn” Zimbabwe has to offer, our first clue that something was amiss is when a man from the reception came to greet us with a lantern…because of no electricity. We climbed the rock-hewn stairs up to the inn getting ourselves and our luggage completely soaked. Upon checking in, we were informed that because we were the only guests for the night, there would not be a generator used. They hoped that the fault causing the power outage would soon be fixed.
So we had a candle-light dinner (not by choice) with the only other light in the dining room coming from three other candles lit on other tables. Our food tasted like it was cooked over the open fire. When you are camping, that is what you expect, but when your mouth has been eagerly waiting for that delicious cuisine then it turns out to be barely edible, it is very disappointing.
After our dinner, we were shown to our room by again walking through more torrential rain. From what we could see by the one lantern and the one candle, the room looked charming. However, we did not have any hot water, again because of no generator or electricity. To make a long story short, when we checked out the following day at around noon, we still did not have any electricity.
I wish I could say that this is an exception, but unfortunately, in much of Africa, this has become the norm. For those in the rural areas and in the villages, they never have electricity. For those in the cities, they used to have electricity, but now due to increased consumption and crumbling infrastructure there is less power to go around. Almost daily at home we may go for six to 14 hours without electricity. Thankfully, we do have a generator that works, but it does wear out appliances like refrigerators much sooner…and, you cannot have the water heater on without electricity nor can you use the washer or dryer.
Our anniversary getaway reinforced to me how blessed we are in America to have electricity all the time (except maybe during a major storm). Having electricity is not a right, it is a privilege, a blessing…and not to be taken for granted. There are millions here who have never had electricity for even one day. So next time you have a “romantic candlelight dinner” remember that for many this is their only option. For us who have been spoiled, I mean blessed, lights please!