Andalucia Steve

...living the dream

How my electricity went down and didn't come back up

 

Last Sunday was a funny old day. As occasionally happens at this time of year, work was scheduled to upgrade the electricity supply, so it was announced that the power would be off between 8am and 10 or 12 depending on which part of the town you live.
 
Midday came and went but my electricity remained off. I had some chores to do and visits to make to recycle some bottles and plastics, so I just got on with it, expecting the problem would sort itself out. By the time I finished it was 14:30 and still no electricity. I visited my neighbour across the street and found her electricity had been restored some time previously. Perhaps it was just me.
 
I tried phoning the number of the electricity company but I butted up against an automated system and none of the available options resulted in a connecting me with human being. Then, for the first time in the two years it has been in my possession, my phone froze. The touch screen wouldn't respond. Phones these days don't have removable batteries and I didn't know how else to turn it off and on again. [I've since learned holding the power button for 20 seconds restarts the thing. Who knew?] All of a sudden with no phone, no computer and my neighbour now apparently repaired for comida, I felt completely out of touch with the world. I felt marooned.
 
At this point I started to be concerned. Everything in my house is electric except the hot-water boiler. I worried that I'd be eating fruit for dinner by candle-light, unable to heat through any of the meals I had in the freezer.
 
I thought perhaps the first thing to do is ask the police for help. This is very nearly an emergency, surely they must know what to do? I couldn't phone them, so I trotted off to the police station. It was closed. So then I thought I'd knock on the door of a few friends in the area, hoping they would be able to phone the police mobile number for me. Problem was, it was such a warm, pleasant, sunny day, that nobody was home.
 
On about the third door I knocked on I finally got a response. It was my old neighbour up in 'La Cilla' in the old town. I explained my plight and she found the mobile number of the police and gave them a call. They told us that if the problem was in the street it was the electricity board's problem but that they wouldn't come out if it was a problem within the property. They recommended getting an electrician first, to determine whether the problem was local or not, then if it was a problem with the supply outside the house, we should get in touch with them again and they would get hold of the electricity company.
 
So now the problem was how to find a domestic electrician on a sunny Sunday afternoon when Olvera was like a ghost town because so many people had gone off with their families to enjoy their houses in the country. My friend thought for a moment and rang her cousin, who knew an electrician. He was out of town, but her cousin asked if she had thought to try another distant family member, 'Cristobel'. She gave us his number and Cristobel was called. Thankfully he was in town and agreed to come right away.
 
I hot-footed it back to the house as fast as my over-weight frame would carry me, as I was walking whereas Cristobel would undoubtedly be in a car. As it happened I got back with about five minutes to spare, so was able to get my breath back. Cristobel arrived with another gentleman and started flicking the switches in my circuit-board. Everything in the house was absolutely dead.
 
Outside the house there was a fuse box. Cristobel requested a chair and he climbed up to test the fuses. I jokingly assured him I'd paid my bills. (When they cut your electricity off here, these fuses are removed by the electricity board!) He tested the supply with his meter but there was no juice. He took the fuses out and tested them but they hadn't blown. He explained they now had to test the next junction box on my neighbour's house to see if current was reaching there. However this box was much higher up on the wall, and since both Cristobel and his mate were quite short, something more than a chair was required. He knocked on my neighbour's door to see if he had some steps but to no avail. Then he had the bright idea of parking his car underneath the junction box and standing on the bonnet. It is a bit of a squeeze to get a big SUV down my road but soon he was on tiptoe peering into view the state of the fuses. He gave one a tap with the handle of his screwdriver as it appeared loose, and banged it back into its housing. Then he tested the supply voltage with his test meter. There was a loud 'bang' and a flash as he had forgotten to change the meter range from continuity testing to volts! Fortunately he didn't fall off the bonnet or otherwise injure himself, but he knew from the shock that current was reaching this junction box so he asked his colleague to check the supply inside the house. He flicked the switch and the lights came on! Yay! Tapping the fuse home had done the job. It was now 16:30 but at least I knew I would have hot food that night!
 
I asked Cristobel how much I owed him and he said twenty euros. I was more than happy to pay, and as I did so, wondered how many years ago it would have been England to get a pair of electricians out on a Sunday afternoon for the same money!

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