Well, the snow finally came and came and came. We got about 10 inches. Unlike many other places in the world, there were no pick-ups with snow blades mounted on the front to clear roads, driveways, parking lots etc. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see a single device designed to remove snow. Well, I did see a real snow shovel but only one! The rest of the shovels were just that–shovels which I think of as being designed to dig holes. Add to this mix, frigid temperatures and you have the potential for all kinds of problems. Problems like–no power for 14 hours and no water for six hours. Fortunately we have a wood stove in one of the family rooms which kept us nice and warm and allowed us to cook dinner and make tea throughout the day. It also required that we all stay together in one space. Makes it hard to do anything productive–especially with a two year old around.
But since there were only two days of school left in the term, I figured I should make it into school which is about 1.5 km away. I had the 9th graders final test of the marking period and it needed to be posted to the red book. The buses aren’t running–apparently one slid off the road, so Faton volunteered to take me to school. I’m met at the gates by about five students. They inform me that no one is there. “No one?” Well, a couple of teachers and some students. So I went on in, hoping that my co-teacher was in attendance. Nope! And the Ministry of Education does not permit PCV’s to be in the classroom on their own. Well, perhaps she will be here shortly. I am a bit early. She did not show and the director (who happens to be my host family father’s twin brother–identical twin!) indicated that she wouldn’t be coming in because of the bus situation. Okay, let me call Faton and ask him to come pick me up. Oops, my phone is now down. It has a message saying “немате кредит.” I have no credit. And no way to get any since there is no power for the entire length of the valley we are nestled in. There is no such thing as a phone in the school either. Hmmmm. Guess I will have to walk. And walk I did. Yes, I was cold by the time I got home but I had dressed appropriately. Had long silk underwear on, had my Canadian mukluks with thermal foot liners on, gloves plus mittens, my hat and my trusty loden coat. The road was a bit icy but the traffic that was traveling the road was moving slowly and many of those vehicles had chains on. I didn’t have a single near miss! Once I saw the minaret for the mosque, I knew I was just about home. But I had one last obstacle to overcome–getting the gate open. It is generally bolted closed to keep strangers out. Normally, I just ring the bell to have someone come open it. No electricity=no bell. Bang on the gate, bang on it some more and some more. Finally Faton came out and opened the gate. He had gotten a call from a friend at the store across the street telling him I was outside banging on the gate! Sound does not carry in these houses made of brick.
Dinner was potatoes baked in the wood stove and then a glass (not a cup) of ruski tea after that. In order to get the wood stove to cooking temperature, a good bit of wood was added which really upped the temperature in the family room. I was taking off sweaters it was so warm. Then for about two hours we had flashes of electricity for a few seconds and then it was gone. Finally at about 8 PM the lights came on for good and the water came back on about half an hour after that. My room was like an ice box and the bed was a bit chilly but it soon warmed up and I was able to get a good night’s sleep. So now I just have to survive the bitter cold. We have minus temperatures the rest of this week (that’s celsius scale temps) and then we should move back on to the other side of freezing. Maybe that will melt the snow! Good thing I’m on winter break and can stay inside!