Powerless

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, when you feel a sense of security about living in a foreign country with a foreign language, when you figure there’s nothing they can do that you haven’t been through before or fixed before; right then something happens to throw you off your game.

The power went off. Or sort of off, it ‘spiked’. Since I was not familiar with spike-power, you may not be either, it means that one second the power comes in at 140 Volt and the next second nothing. Lights flicker, modems reboot, the fridge kicks on and off, security system starts bleeping. Apparently machines were not made to ‘flicker’ and they all made it their business to tell us. The beeping and tooting was persistent; I even went in alarm-mode. This of course happened just as I was frying some chicken for a dinner party.

Thankfully we cook on gas as I passed the point of no return, it was either finish it or bin it.  So in between turning the chicken I ran up- and downstairs to unplug machines that I wasn’t even aware off had alarm bells. I also retrieved a flashlight to be able to estimate when the chicken was done and got the candles out.

The electricity spiked for about half an hour and then came back on. Relieved that we had ‘survived’ the black-out, we just went about our business as usual: dinner was cooked, the guest arrived, and wine was poured. Then, just as we sat down for dinner (the chicken looked a little bleak, but was very edible) the power went into spike-mode again.

Casually we unplugged everything again, lit some candles for dinner and discussed how quickly the place warms up when you don’t have a fan to supply a little breeze. While the sweat beads rolled off our foreheads, we pretended it wasn’t so and assured our guest the power surely would come back on soon.

It didn’t  It was gone. Nothing came back on. My freezer started defrosting and the wind that had given us some relieve, died down. What worried us most, was that it seemed we were the only ones; the neighbors had their lights on or probably went to bed early (it is 9 pm now). We had no idea who to call and therefore figured it would sort itself out at some point.

For dessert we went across the street to the brightly lit coffee place. Halfway through our coffee we saw an ‘appearance’ guided by a halo: the CFE (electricity company) truck. It was as if it was sent our way by magic. I ran out into the street to stop them and explained the problem. Uber-cool they said: “we’ll have a look”. It then turned out that our neighbors did have the same problem and had called them. So much for magic.

After opening up the street, some head-scratching and some ticking on our electricity meters, the CFE heroes figured they could fix it provisionally. Yay! They retrieved a very, very long cable from their truck and rolled it out on the street… Uhm? They hacked our supply into someone else’s (before the meter of course, we are still paying for it).

The current state of our electricity supply

The current state of our electricity supply; the black wire in the gutter is it!

So that was almost a week ago. It seems that the temporary fix has become somewhat permanent. Hopefully it withstands the rain that is expected later this week. If not, I’ll be offline for a while, but at least I’ll know I’m not alone. There’s the neighbor and if that fails, I’ll just rely on magic again.

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