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Thread: LUZ

  1. #1
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default LUZ

    The flash of light was so bright it woke all sleeping beside open windows. Certainly the loud pops and occasional explosions woke the rest. The women screamed & roused those stlll sleeping to evacuate. Catastrophe! No, it was the transformer on the power pole at the corner just above the hairdresser’s place. It self-destructed with a shower of white sparks & loud reports, a startling pyrotechnic display. The hairdresser said she thought it was the end of the world; her daughter, a nun dressed in her habit, said she thought that the volcano Cerro Negro had exploded (… again … when prayers for it to stop blanketing Leon with ash were answered, so to speak, the parishes of Leon declared a day of giving thanks. Thus Leon has two “purisimas, o dias de immaculada concepcion” each year. (Nicaragua in general celebrates only Dec 8.) It’s a combo Halloween-treats for folk at your door (altar) with their hand out, saying the holy (magic) words and Thanksgiving to Mother Mary for her part in the miracle of bringing God to earth and quelling the volcano.)

    It wasn’t easy to think rationally (what to take outside and still be counted among the ‘survivors’) being woken at 4AM by hysterical women rounding us all up & out (as if it were an earthquake drill). I grabbed my satchel with passports & back-up dollars and slipped on shorts & flip-flops. Sparks flew for a while so our rag-tag group of neighbors had eye-candy to aid conversation. (Not that the women necessarily needed an aid – where two or more are gathered, silence is banished.) Seeing it was a transformer, I went back to bed. (First, I said something about the fumes being very toxic; it was half a block away on a windless night.)


    So we had no electricity. Getting up at a civil hour, I went out to read the e-meter. I calculated that if the black-out continued for three days we’d be on track to hit the economy-discount limit of 150 kWh per month. Here I must amplify. The Sandis set up a power consumption limit for poor folk. (I think of it as la Chaya’s cause she talks about it. Though she’s always talking about something on TV or radio; beyond guiding her hubby O, she the Communications grand Pooh-Bah, whatever.) Use less than 150 kWh/mo and get a handsome discount. Use more, you rich s.o.b., you pay!


    We’ve been in this two bedroom apartment with mini-patio inside (an open-roof area for washing clothes (punching out the dirt on a concrete washboard sink) & drying ‘em & storing accumulated stuff). (Mid-paragraph footnote: I say ‘we’. I married a Nica – that’s equivalent to marrying her whole family. My wife, our 1.4 yr-old gringo toddler & I spend half the year in Jersey (50% of our waking hours there in the mall). Her kids (& variously my suegra, cunados & a mini-gaggle of related others) stay in the place while we’re gone, attending school (Feb-Nov). Near 10 years ago the rent of $160/mo (cash dollars, please) included electricity. Through these 10 years rent increased $60 (37%) to $220/mo but without having to pay the power company (the dreaded Union Fenosa & later not-so-bad DisNorte) it was a better deal than we could find anywhere in Leon. (Some asked $700 for dumps – downtown, imagining Leon to be equivalent to New York City, I guess. Some NGO types on lush expense accounts provoke such distortions.) Five months ago, at considerable cost, the owner (a Nica just retired from his Orange County, CA, accountant’s job) had our power company, now DisNorte-Dissur (a disservice provider?) install meters for each of these 7 apt’s; he dropped the rent to $200/mo (now paid in advance – too many had skipped out).


    There’s no better teacher than experience. My first full e-bill was 1,191 cords (=$43 – that $20 reduction in rent got swallowed) for 174 kWh consumed. Actually 983 cords was for energy used; 116 went to public lighting (you’re welcome) + 80 for ‘comercializacion’(?) + 12 for regulacion INE’ (tax?). (Clearly Nica utilities are on the path to unreadable bills that gringo crooks have perfected, with the help of layers of politi-crooks.) The next month’s bill opened my eyes: 455 cords ($16.40 – bless my frugal soul!) for burning 148 kWh. Whaaaaaaaaaaa? Time to scrutinize the fine print. Obviously – by sheer dumb luck – we scored below Chaya’s 150 kWh limit. The power we used (+ alumbrado publico &c.) cost 936.3 cords. The Sandis gave me a credit of 485.4 cords ‘subsidio consumo menor’. They got my vote – oh, wait, I can’t vote here. (With all the pretty politicos playing dumb & dumber non-stop on TV Stateside, I’m feeling totally disenfranchised. Modernity has its price, right?) Anywho, I was ready to light a candle for la Chaya (What would Mother Mary look like on TV today? With lots of rings on her fingers? Peace, bro.)


    But the next month we passed the limit using 176 kWh. No subsidies for us; I had to pay 1,216 cords ($43.75, ouch, reality hurts) A difference of less than 1 kWh/d – you’d think, if we pulled together, we could stay in the poor zone. But no, I provide roof over a couple vain teenager who are continually recharging smart phone batteries & watching mush on TV or worse ironing hair. My middle-aged wife is worse. Besides, pleading for their cooperation to reduce a bill they don’t have to pay sounds like communism, or at least, evil (to free-loaders – no, no, I accept responsibility as husband/provider (or is that no longer PC?)). We are the only apartment in this lot exceeding the 150 kWh/mo.


    Back when the apartment was a much better deal than I’d imagined – with free electricity, water & cable (an accidental discovery, Claro had never disconnected the prior renter’s line). But no more gravy train. Still it’s the best deal I’ve found here. The two families that had hidden air conditioners – pushing the landlord to pay big to have individual meters installed – skipped town. (He asked that renters pay $15/mo extra to install A/C.) I never wanted the luxury. I come here to sweat, to detoxify my body of all those Stateside food additives (like polybrominated vegetable oil). In Jersey I have allergies to hay, pollen, &c. for which I pop antihistamines. Here in Nicaragua, nada, I breathe freely, no pills, thank you. The volcanic dust will eventually give me a hacker’s cough, but that vanishes Stateside. I picked Leon cause it felt safe enough to raise kids (in 10 years we’ve never been assaulted here, even walking back from the movies or a club around midnight). It’s a university town. And it’s a short ride to the beach. But damn, it gets HOT (93F in the shade at noon is pleasant). Herds of young, sex-craved gringos, European, Cannucks &c. pass through. Sometime clusters of foreign old farts too (Europeans are snooty, Americans goofy). A beer cold enough to precipitate ice crystals in your glass costs $1 out at a nice place, same price with a live band. I can’t afford a draft beer at a bar in rural Jersey (even happy hours are relatively sad). So I sober up from my Nica excesses while I catch up on homeland happenings


    Too little of Nicaragua's electrical energy is derived from renewable resources. The wind farms on the isthymus of Rivas are impressive (I imagine most of that goes nearby to San Juan del Sur (& Rivas?) because of power loss(cost) over wire (too far to Managua); are their rates cheaper?). The Momotombo geothermal plant is producing at 10% of its initial capacity. And the San Jacinto project seems riddled with problems. Most power here is produced by burning imported bunker oil (or equivalent) which is wasteful mega-pollution. Despite the abundant sunshine there is little happening with solar conversion to electricity. The main requirement for solar power to benefit the public is a strong middle class and government subsidies. Here, if the poor were not being subsidized to stay legal & keep a lid on power consumption (which runs counter to development goals), they’d simply climb a pole and tap into a nearby powerline. (Everybody knows someone who’d provide the service cheaply.) It was a major problem when Spain’s Union Fenosa was running the business. It still is common, but less so.


    Oh yeah, DissNorte repaired that blown transformer by 2PM that same day. So I’ll just have to pay the rich man’s burden.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: LUZ

    Good one....
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  3. #3

    Default Re: LUZ

    Great read!

  4. #4

    Default Re: LUZ

    Loved it too.

    I never understand how "whoever" watching my house manages to use more juice than when I'm there too.

  5. #5
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: LUZ

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    Loved it too.

    I never understand how "whoever" watching my house manages to use more juice than when I'm there too.
    That is a Nicaraguan Riddle and very hard to solve....
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



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