I think that it is fair to say that we are currently living 'in extremis'.
Persistent Rain in Kenya - readers currently experiencing flooding in UK can sympathise!
As I sat working on my computer this morning, in the small room which is now doubling up as one daughter's garret style bedroom, while needing a wee fairly desperately after my second cup of coffee – I wondered where on earth I might go to the loo.
I had already headed out to a 7am exercise class, expressly for the purpose of having access to a hot shower afterwards and being able to wash my hair. The exercise wasn’t much fun, but it was worth it for the plentiful hot water. As of today, the whole family will have to don raincoats and wellies in order to get a hot bath in our guest room, that is now no longer linked to the rest of the house. It rains daily on or around 3pm - almost like clockwork.
Since getting back from school, our eldest daughter says it's okay - "it's like pretending we are in the olden days."
"I think we might be at the most difficult point of the build," my husband said down the phone from the comparative comfort of his office. "You must make sure that they get that loo under the stairs working."
I stifled a response.
Our difficult loo situation at home was exacerbated by the fact that one downstairs bathroom was, at that moment, having its septic tank pipes cleared (blocked again through heavy use by the whole family, plus the usual tree root problem) and the one other loo option had no running water. I'm also still rather dubious about the temporary corrugated iron manhole cover that has been placed over the re-routed waste pipe, right next to where the builders are working.
I crossed my legs and thought about whether to go shopping – just to use the shopping centre loo. Then I thought about the time a few weeks ago, when after a 7 hour drive back from our Easter weekend – my husband retreated to the ‘wrong’ loo – where the waste pipe at that moment was sticking out, exposed, into the newly laid foundations. The memory of that night time fall-out (or should I say clear up) doesn’t bear thinking about.
In the past few weeks we have had record rainfall (it was predicted to be low). The thunderstorms have been spectacular. Water has been pouring in through the open roof and in through all sorts of nooks and crannies, many that we had no previous idea about.
Critically, rain water has been running over the newly installed and upgraded electrical distribution board. My husband got a major electric shock on Sunday, while trying to flip a fuse causing smoke and sparks to appear. We are both learning more than we ever wanted to know about electrics (much of our house still has 1930s wiring with cotton insulation apparently) and plumbing – and building in general. Oh and we’ve run out of buckets. All buckets are employed in water collection. Buckets are a precious commodity in this house!
On the radio this morning, news played out that a 4 storey building in Westlands (central Nairobi) that was under construction, had collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt. I wondered briefly if our house would withstand an earthquake, then I quickly switched channel.
The Asian foreman made an interesting discovery during the demolition phase of the build. 3 boxes of large American Weatherby magnum ammunition - brass bullets for hunting circa 1950/60, were hidden under our old bath - wrapped in a plastic bag and in pristine condition. On the boxes is the image of an elephant. The Asian foreman was extremely worried that they belonged to us.
“Very dangerous”– he kept repeating.
"Not ours" I said repeatedly. We were nodding and shaking our heads at each other furiously.
The Weatherby 'elephant' bullets found under the bath
My husband meanwhile was beyond excited. We wondered if they had been hidden under the bath at some point after Kenya’s ‘Emergency’. My husband searched for similar ones on Ebay immediately.
“Wonder if we’ll find the rifle next?” he asked hopefully.
Sadly, we've found nothing more exciting than a bat skeleton in the old, disused chimney and a dead rat or two have appeared. The dogs look miserable. The rest of the family have lost their minds and out-voted me in the decision to buy a puppy (not due to move in until July fortunately!).
But I can’t complain. A palazzo is taking shape around us at top speed. Hidden in amongst the difficult cash flow decisions, constant power outages, site meetings, mud, wellies and my trying to meet deadlines and get some work done, amid all the madness – there are glimmers of what the house promises be like at the end.
And every time the 25 builders get soaked in yet another daily rain storm – I feel so sorry.
And when I see the watchman patrolling at night and stop him at around 9pm to chat and give him his bread and milk - and then say “sorry for the rain.”
When he replies, “it’s okay Madam. Let it rain – it’s very good for us.”
Then my heart bleeds.
So I absolutely can’t complain at all.
(p.s. I just emailed the bathroom fitting supplier thinking it was my husband I was writing to - and signed off with two kisses. (The bathroom fittings guy is about 23 and a bit shy) Only realised my mistake when the reply came back - I think my wheels are definitely falling off!).