African Luxuries : Electricity Regulators

5 03 2012

The electrical current is not very stable here.  We should be getting 220V at all times but sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less and sometimes it jumps around.  At the old house, one might think it was haunted at the rate the lights dimmed and brightened throughout the day but it’s much better here.  (Are you noticing a pattern here?)

The ups & downs are really hard on electronics and it’s fairly common for it to ruin them altogether.  An acquaintance of mine recently went through her 8th router.  Replacing TV’s, microwaves & computers every few months would get expensive so it’s much easier to use electricity regulators.

Basically, we plug the regulator into the wall and then our big electronics get plugged into the regulator.  The regulators job is to take the current, be it high or low, and stabilize it to 220V.  Hopefully this will result in the longevity of TVs, computers and other electronics.


African Luxuries : Water Reservoir Tank & Pump

28 02 2012

I thought I’d start a new series of posts regarding African luxuries – things that aren’t essential to survival but certainly make life a whole lot easier if you have them.

The water pressure here is dreadful and that is why most houses have reservoir tanks and water pumps installed right away.

The regular town water fills up the tank and then when a tap is turned on in the house, the pump kicks in and forces the water from the tank through the pipes and into the house.  This ensures that the water pressure is sufficient for general purposes.

Without a pump and water tank, there is literally a dribble of water; not enough to even fill the kitchen sink to do dishes.  In actuality, without the pump, at our second floor apartment we probably wouldn’t even get a drop through the taps.  When we first arrived we were in a hotel room that didn’t have water assistance and I couldn’t even wash my hair in the shower as there just wasn’t enough water nor pressure.  It assured me that yes, a pump & tank make life in Gabon A LOT easier.

You can check out the first edition of African Luxuries here.

African Luxuries: Generators

20 02 2012

I thought I’d start a new series of posts regarding African luxuries – things that aren’t essential to survival but certainly make life a whole lot easier if you have them.

Just before our arrival in Gabon, Joe’s company began installing generators at every expat household.  The generator is big; it holds 100 litres of diesel and can power most of the house.  If needed, it could keep us out of the dark for 2 days without a fill up.

The electricity goes out fairly regularly here.  At our last house, we needed the generator at least once a week but in our new location, the power seems to be much more stable.  Sometimes the cuts last for an hour or 2, other times it’s several hours or days.  The generator starts automatically and it shuts off automatically when the electricity returns.  The only thing we need to worry about is keeping it topped up with diesel.

Unfortunately, our apartment seems to have 2 separate electricity lines and the generator is only tapped in to one of them.  We didn’t realise how bad it was until the power went out one day and literally, half of our apartment was without power.  (Funny enough it’s not just the right side or the left side; it’s the AC in one room and lights in another or one outlet works but not the next.  Nothing an extension cord can’t fix though.)


7 02 2012

I don’t think I’ve heard of a single person that doesn’t hate mosquitoes.  They bite you, they steal your blood and then leave an itchy red bump behind.  Here in Gabon we take mosquitoes seriously.  Once a month an extermination company comes to our house to spray the yard and the interior of the house.

This stuff is bad – I stay in the house with the windows closed and the air conditioners off and it still manages to seep in through the tiny little cracks and before long, the room is looking smoky.  It penetrates your lungs and forces you to cough and you can tell, this stuff is not good for you.  However, malaria is also not good and Gabon is considered a high risk zone.  People here don’t worry about the environment nor the health risks of the chemicals used in spraying because if you get malaria and it goes untreated, you won’t be around to worry about those things.

Sorry for the terrible photo quality - I didn't want to stick around outside to get the shot!

Joe and I no longer take Malarone.  Actually, we really only took it for the first month or 2 that we lived here.  It’s really hard on your body and I felt sick every single morning after taking it.  It’s also meant to be for short term use and the long term effects have yet to be tested so because we live here year round, we decided to forgo it.  Instead, we wear mosquito spray whenever we go out at sunrise or sunset and we continue to spray our yard with harmful chemicals.  Either way it’s a win-lose situation.

Le Jardinier

18 01 2012

Joe’s company hires us a gardener who comes around every 2 weeks to do the yard.

He drives this…

The weed eater/whipper snipper, rake and machete are strapped to the cross bar.  The small fuel bucket gets tied down to the back and he even carries a large canvas bag filled with all the clippings on the handle bars.  It must not be easy navigating traffic on a bike here not to mention the shady roads he has to travel on to reach everyone’s houses.  (I can’t imagine in the rainy season when some roads turn into giant pools of waist-high water.)

What is also not easy, nor efficient, is that no one owns a lawn mower here.  We once saw a gardener cutting the grass of an entire football field WITH A WHIPPER SNIPPER.  Can you imagine?

Hello World!

27 10 2011

Joe & I are FINALLY back online!

We had internet at our last house provided by a new company called WiFly as the main internet company, Gabon Telecom, didn’t service our area.  We left that house months ago and when we did we recommended they take the satellite and hold it for our new house.  Of course, no one at Joe’s office followed up on this.

We moved into our new home and immediately asked to get our internet reconnected.  The people in Joe’s office gave us the “maybe next week” response a few times before it came to light that they had NEVER paid WiFly for the service at our last house and now WiFly was refusing to transfer our service until they were paid (of course!)  Joe went to see the finance department and they told him they’d pay the bill tomorrow.  We heard that story for 2 months.

Tempers flared, frustrations bubbled over and in the end, they decided to use Gabon Telecom instead.  (I didn’t think it was that hard to pay a darn bill but apparently it is!)  Gabon Telecom gave us the “maybe next week” answer several times until yesterday when Joe & the internet guy from the office followed the technician around from job to job ensuring that they stopped at our house along the way.  The connection was finished in a matter of seconds but it didn’t work.  Apparently when they told us they couldn’t provide internet at the last house, Halliburton paid to secure a telephone number and continued paying on a monthly basis to hold it.  Even though we were paying to reserve the number, Gabon Telecom decided to give it away because we weren’t using it &%&^$%^!!!!!  Things got a little ugly and a threat to take them to court was made but by the end of the day, we were online!

Internet is a necessity when you live thousands of miles and several time zones away from your family and friends and I’m baffled at the thought of what people did before it was invented.  I felt so disconnected from the rest of the world and unfortunately the world goes on even when I can’t follow it!  I’m so excited for the skype dates to commence to see what everyone has been up to the last 3 months!

I am back!


3 10 2011

On a much happier note, we are no longer homeless!  Before I left for Canada this past summer, we finally secured a new place to live.  After all of our troubles last year we were very particular and we are so happy with our choice.

This time we are right in the centre of things, the complete opposite of our more isolated house we had last year.  We are now downtown occupying half of the second floor of a building, a store below us and an office beside us.  We are one block from the ocean and just about everything one might need; grocery stores, banks, hardware stores, restaurants, etc.

Our apartment has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and an open dining, living, office area.  The ‘piece de resistance’ is the garden.  We have a pool and an outdoor kitchen, not an easy thing to find in Gabon, and a bit of grassy space with papaya and banana trees.

The living room and Joe's office in the background.

Eventually we'll have a dining table and it will go here.

The kitchen

Our room

Main bathroom

Our pool

The apartment, yard and my pool boy.

We’ll get a guest room ready as soon as you tell us you are coming to visit 😉