• 18Apr

    Dealin’ electric

    Once a month we track down Nomvano, our ‘super’, to buy electricity. Not something I’m used to, bein’ an American gal. And it’s always more complicated than it needs to be … much like everything else in Mount Frere.

    First we have to call Nomvano. Sounds easy, right? Nomvano speaks pretty good English, but hot-damn is she hard to understand on the phone! Once we’ve been cut-off a few times and have all become extremely frustrated, we decide on a meeting spot for the ‘transaction’. Sometimes we meet outside the bank, sometimes in the parking lot of our building, or the taxi rank, or down a back road we didn’t even know existed.

    Andy buying electricity from Nomvano.

    The buy.

    Nomvano carries the electricity either in her bra or up her shirt sleeves, and if you’re lucky, she’ll ask you to fish it out for her when her hands are full! Electricity costs R50 for 80 kilowatt hours. Pretty fair deal, and we go through about 5 units per month. Therefore, we always try to buy extra — maybe 6, maybe 8, depending on how many she’s got. That is always a huge surprise to her. Most people buy them one at a time. Even phone cards are sold in R5 increments. Can you imagine filling up your cell phone with .50 cents-worth? That’s how they roll in the Frere.

    Then we take our little paper electricity cards back to the flat and punch them into the electricity box on the wall. It’s actually great for energy conservation because I’m more likely to turn off lights and appliances when I see the numbers on the electricity box going down, down, down.

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