CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Lightening does strike twice

Well almost, because a few years ago, my telephone line was hit by lightening that "fried" my then modem. [1] That lit up the night sky brighter than the light show for a Stones concert, as the blue spark travelled at speed down the wire and into the back of my computer. It was only by pure luck that I reacted, threw myself back across the room and away from it, in time.

This time, lightening hit the electrical pylon, not 25 meters from the house in the early hours of Saturday morning, which is only inches from the phone cable that runs up the hill past it. Reckon that metal pylon attracts lightening?

It's very rare for a storm to wake me up, but this one did at 5.30 on Saturday morning, because it was so loud and, because the rolling thunder shook this house (with it's half meter thick walls). By the tiny interval between thunder claps, I knew the storm was close overhead too and just seconds after the first that woke me and a millisecond before the next boom, was a tremendous explosion as lightening hit something I knew had to be very close by.

Power went off in this house at that instant, but when I looked outside, it was still on in the valley below at that time. Nevertheless, there wasn't much I could do at 5.30 a.m., so I went back to bed. At 8.30 a.m. the power was still off here and was also off in the entire valley (and various other areas apparently.)

Went outside to inspect, then phoned the electricity company and explained what I had seen and heard: that lightening must have hit the pylon.

Around 12.30 I rang UNELCO again, as after 7 hours, we were still without power and neither had I seen any technicians anywhere in the area.

Shortly afterwards, two blokes in a van turned up (coincidentally), took one look at it and announced casually that lightening had hit the pylon.

No, really? Don't you just love experts? Sarcastic

But these bright sparks weren't the repair guys. Now we had to wait for someone else to repair whatever had been hit and, of course, there were a lot of repairs needed after the storm and, no, they couldn't give me any idea at all how long it would be before they would turn up, let alone how long it would take to repair ... I decided I'd had enough then. This house only has small windows facing north, so even in daylight, it's impossible to see indoors without artificial lighting. Therefore there was absolutely nothing whatsoever I could do here; I was cold, damp and couldn't even make a decent cup of coffee.

When I went to catch the 2 o'clock bus the power was still off anyway.

It was a bad storm, but it wasn't that bad, compared to some we've had in recent years. To be left without power for 9+ hours, after something really only a bit worse than what is becoming "routine bad weather", is unacceptable.

As an expat, sure I accept sacrifices, but I didn't move to the "third world".

And on an island that relies on tourism this is downright 'effin criminal.

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that this would not - could not - happen if cables were put under ground. And there wouldn't be a lot of these repairs needed and time and money wasted after every storm. Yet these ugly overhead cable spaghettis are still being installed, even in tourist areas.

Speaking to a neighbour, who has lived and worked in Germany, later at the bus station in Buenavista (he was also "escaping" to Puerto de la Cruz to look at the carnaval parade for something to do and to get warm), he compared the situations and opines too that the antiquated systems here are to blame.

What concerns us, is that we will be underground before the cables are!

And if lightening can strike twice in the same place already, lets hope that it isn't in the too near future.

[1] If you think the electricity company's response is slow, it took more than 4 years before Telefonica would even come out to look at the phone cable that was damaged and suffering badly from crackling noise on the line (they blamed everything else; my phone, my computer, cheap calls with a competitor), despite me telling them that I had seen it hit by lightening.

Pamela is a former accountant, recovering journalist and international cat herder, disabled and chronically sick with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia and Cervical spondylosis, fluent in three languages; English, Spanish and Rubbish. Mostly writes in the latter. She likes Genealogy, Model Railways and Cats.

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