Friday, September 21, 2007

La Luz

Spanish for "The Light". But in Costa Rica it also means "The Electricity". The other day a grua (flatbed) towing a lancha hit the overhead electric cables that cross the street in front of our office. The boat was too high on the flatbed to pass underneath. The driver was going too fast for the guys on the boat to lift the cables up over the bridge of the lancha to avoid hitting them, causing some minor chaos when the cables got hung up on the bridge. (I use the word "chaos" loosely - it's an oxymoron here because every day is somewhat chaotic with regard to maintenance of any sort of infrastructure, and you just get used to it). The cables didn't come down, but after the mishap, they crossed the street at a lower elevation. In other words, there was less clearance beneath them after the comical collision.

About an hour ago, a large truck attemting to pass beneath the sagging cables finished the job. There was a bright flash and a loud bzzzzzzztt outside the office as cables snapped and a transformer blew up. I looked up from my desk to see a live wire fall, just missing coming down on the head of a man crossing the street. To my amazement, he didn't even flinch. I jumped up to get a better look. The live wire was resting on top of my pickup parked out front. A concrete telephone pole whose support cable had snapped was bouncing against the cross cables running at 90 degrees to another wooden pole right next to it. My pickup was directly in the path of the concrete pole's trajectory if it were to fall! The offending truck was making a very fast getaway. The driver was clearly very experienced at maneuvering his vehicle. I sensed this was not the first time he had found himself in this sort of predicament.

Traffic into and out of Coco came to a grinding halt. Horns began to blow. Motorcyclists weaved through the snarl, threading the needle to one side of the fallen cables. The rain poured down in buckets as it has been for three days now, and continues to do so with no end in sight until November. I think I have mold growing out of my ears now, it's been so wet. We are without power and internet, of course.

My secretary called Coopeguanacaste (the electric company in our area) to report the incident. The person on the other line said she would need to transfer the call. After a few minutes, she came back on the line to tell my secretary that there was no answer at the extension to which she was trying to transfer the call. My secretary asked her if it it would be too difficult for her to get up, walk over and tap the person's shoulder sitting at the extension to which she was trying to connect. The lady got the message.

A few minutes later, Amnet (one of the cable companies here) showed up and began work on the lines. The wooden pole across the street had snapped in two. Again, to my amazement, they were able to hoist the fallen cables high enough using ladders as supports to start the flow of traffic again in about 20 minutes. I was then able to move my pickup from it's precarious position.

The power has just come back online. The internet's up. We're back in business! Took about an hour. Unbelievable! A record not only for Costa Rica, but even for Chicago or Cleveland, I would say.

But the day's just begun...

¡Pura vida!

1 comment:

  1. first time i've read a blog. i'm traveling to costa rica from the mtns in w. nc. next week. staying at nicuyo peninsula. read about some of ur dealing with how things work w/elec company etc. funny! i'm keeping expectations very low and armed with duct tape & lots of sun screen. sorry bout ur dog. i'm staying at ecotel. lots of good comments about it. i'm a tourist and not gonna be a snob about a place that enables me to take a vacation vs charge me alot i can't afford. sorry bout ur dog tho. hope they don't have more trouble like that!