Saturday, March 10, 2012

losing my power

Yesterday I felt a bit like Henry VI. 

One moment I had power,  And then I didn’t.  And then I did.  And then I didn't.

Electrical power, that is.  In my case.

Electricity is rather reliable in Mexico.  At least, in Melaque.  The power company (CFE) keeps its end of the social contract.  When I flip a switch, I almost always get results.

There are exceptions.  Like yesterday.

When I returned home from Manzanillo, I noticed there was a good deal of activity a few houses down.  Truck.  Men in the streets. 

I didn’t pay much attention until I opened the refrigerator door to store some prized lunch meat I had managed to bag in The Big City.  No light.  And not very cold.

Flipping a couple of other switches answered what type of truck was in the street.  A CFE truck.  They must be repairing some sort of outage, thought I in my best Logic 101 fashion.

My upstairs neighbors then gave me the rest of the story.  CFE is replacing old utilities poles.  And, of course, the electricity had to be turned off to accomplish the task safely.  The house had been without power for several hours

So, out I went.  This was a blog event playing out right before my camera.

The truck at the left side of the photograph had brought new poles.  By the time I arrived, the poles were up and were being ratcheted into place.  The men on the top of the poles were then installing new wires.

But take a look at what they are using to stay in place.

No stirrups.  No cherry picker.  They have tied a loop of rope for their foot and the weight on the loop tightens the knot around the pole.  Just like a properly-installed hammock.  Clever.  But it is the type of safety equipment that would drive OSHA to its citation pad in The States.

During the summer, we lose electricity with about every third rain storm.  But those outages are usually only for an hour or two.

This refurbishment took longer.  but not long enough to damage the food in the refrigerator -- even though I did need to make new ice.

The greatest inconvenience was the lack of internet.  I ran my laptop off of my battery.  But it felt odd not having blog or email contact.  Instead, I actually had to go talk to people face to face. 

In the end, Henry VI lost all power -- and his life. 

And me?  My power was restored by the end of the day with some shiny new infrastructure to add a bit of regal luster.


Carl Wilson said...

Steve, as you know, the amount of time we spent in the workers' compensation industry makes world travel scary at times.  No guards or safety precautions anywhere.  Mexico and Egypt jump to mind as prime offenders.  

John Calypso said...

CFE very similar here as well. We did have a power pole mishap about a week ago that took the power down for an hour. It seems a mass of wasps settled-in within a tall main street light fixture. When the city workers were evicting the wasps they got unhappy. The entire crew under attack scattered. The truck operator with the lift basket knocked down the power pole in a haste to get away. Also they replaced all the aluminum wire runs a month or two ago (a great idea that was past its time by the way).

I think the interesting comparison to first world is that CFE will disengage your power without notice where as unless it is an emergency in the U.S.l they will notify you about the planned interruption. In Mexico the services seem to have no qualms about stopping service without notice.  Could be frustrating if you are a Type A personality ;-)

Andean said...

Is that bright yellow house in VO? 
That means air conditioning wasn't working, oh no, one night I guess wouldn't be too bad. Seems like its been in the 80's there during the day, pleasant for the coast... summers heat can get way beyond that here and there.
Regal luster, never thought about electrical poles in that realm of light.

Andean said...

Not necessarily you'd be surprised how many times I've come home through the years. Sometimes a neighbor or such may call to have something fixed and it unfixes everything for a period of time. But you can usually call the company and find out more or less the time it will be restored.
B+ and it's still frustrating to a degree...

Steve Cotton said...

Good to hear from you again, Carl.

I suspect the lack of safety is what attracts me in many of my life pursuits. And I must admit that I was tempted to ask the CFE guys if I could try out their pole-climbing technique.

Steve Cotton said...

Considering the difficulty of transmitting electricity -- and its high cost -- I am just happy to have it here in my isolated piece of the tropics.  I have learned I would have no chance of living on a desert isle.

Steve Cotton said...

 But I guess we can be glad we do not live in countries where electricity is only a part-time thing.

Steve Cotton said...

It is in Villa Obregon.  Just down the street from me.  But they certainly do not have air conditioning.  The house has no  walls.

The days are heating up here -- along with an increase in humidity.  But the nights are still a bit cool.  In the lower 70s last night.

Andean said...

WORLD travel in general... I hear you. We have to pick our choices and may be different for many reasons. Lack of safety may not attract me, other things do... Life and it's places have to be weighed out, sometimes unique to each of us.

sparks said...

Hey ... they climb palm trees around here with nothing but feet and hands.

I only need a UPS (power backup) for the computer when the power goes. Mine died in the Jova flood

Steve Cotton said...

 I have a lot of battery power for the laptop: its battery, an auxiliary sheet batter , and my UPS.  Did you figure out how to get internet through your cell phone service?  That would not have helped me that day because I was having separate and unrelated problems with my cell phone. I think I have dropped it one too many times.

sparks said...

Yep ... I have both an Iphone and a USB modem for this desktop.   Costing me about 900 pesos a month but when you don't have Telmex

Steve Cotton said...

 Hmm.  Interesting option.  But a little expensive for the odd time when I would be without power.