It’s a big day for us. We’re going with Don Eloy, friend and former owner of our place, to plead our case at Coopeguancaste. This is the case for getting our electricity returned as soon as possible. Like, today. Or tomorrow.
To recap, we have no electricity because there was a ‘mixup’ and the bill wasn’t paid. Once it was cut off, we were fully prepared to rectify the problem (of course). However it wasn’t just cut off – the meter distributing the electricity to our house had been removed. Now we have no choice but to start fresh with a new account. And all the protocol of setting up a new service. Which involves paperwork, fees, inspections, and… waiting. So even though it’s been a week already, we aren’t even 10% of the way through the bureaucratic hassle. But we can’t wait, our water is dependent on an electric pump that brings it from the well to the house. And the tank is low. WE can wash in the river and drink from bottles. The animals not so much. So, armed with our self-righteous belief that they can’t say no us considering our circumstances, we head for Nicoya. And we won’t leave the office until there’s a solution.
Ours is a two seater vehicle. A pick up that used to be a coffee truck. Love it. Rose (the new dog) and I pick up Don Eloy while Harry has taken the bus. We will all meet at the restaurant with the tablecloths. Turns out there’s more than one restaurant with tablecloths. Classy town. And of course Harry and I are each at a different one waiting for the other.
This is our story.
All together we get to Coopeguanacaste in time to wait. Though not as long as normally because Don Eloy is 90 years old and we get preferential status. (yes, we needed a 90 year old to come help us with the electric company.)
Luckily this also placed us with the smartest attendant in the place. it took a lot of explaining for her to finally grasp our story. Things start to digress as she finds our lost account (oh god, long story involving us paying our electricity in Eloy’s name for 2 years) and thus triggering another round of absurd conversation about just how could this account have been lost further complicating our already complicated circumstance I lose it at one point and need to be told to cool it.
It is explained we need an inspection to see if our service is up to standard. To see if our meter is going on a properly installed pole. To see if the account can, in fact, be activated according to code.
Now, just to clarify something for our North American readers…all these standards are not going to be met by Coopeguanacaste workers. No. We have to do the work to install the pole, the meter box, the electrical cable.
So we get a handout describing the very standards that must be met by the time the inspectors come tomorrow morning. Harry will have to install a meter pole. We have to find and electrician who can install the meter box to the pole. We have to do all this today, and we just spent 3 hours waiting / talking / cajoling / sweating it out at Coopeguanacaste.
Once the dust settles, the lady assures us she’ll do what she can to expedite our file. We should be able to have power on Thursday. We’ll have an inspection on Christmas Eve (tomorrow).
Now we have to get Eloy back home; Eloy will introduce Harry to Pasquale the electrician and smooth the way for getting his help at 6am on Christmas Eve. Then Harry will come back to Nicoya to buy the supplies for the installation he will need to do tonight – to give time for the cement (holding the pole) to be dry for Pasquale to install the meter box in time for the inspectors to come and (hopefully) give us the thumbs up for installation (again) of the electrical service.
So I wait in Nicoya with Rose by my side. She makes an excellent companion. She and I visit the vet and then hang out in the park. I’m so lucky. Harry has to drive 40 minutes back to Copal; find and talk to the electrician and get him to agree to work tomorrow; drive 40 minutes back to Nicoya for us and the material.
Waiting, again, at Coopeguanacaste to order the material we need I get to observe the other attendant on duty that day. A perhaps pretty woman who seems to know it, or thinks she’s the shit, or is sleeping with the boss, or something. Because while literally dozens of people are waiting to be attended to, she’s on the phone with a friend. Then brushing her hair. Her make up. The phone. Finally, she gives a disdainful look out onto the huddled masses and starts to click through the numbers (you get a number when you enter the place, like in an old butcher shop, to know when it’s your turn). She doesn’t call out the number or in any way indicate she’s ready to receive. She just clicks through about 15 digits in a row before someone calls out (I’m sure) “wtf?”.
The excellent woman who served us earlier has to pick up the slack. She also takes the clicker away from her couldn’t-give-a-shit colleague.
Get the material paid for, and we’re just waiting for the material to be assembled when our neighbour comes by to tell us Harry’s uncle is at the house waiting to kill a pig. Wha?
Something that went right over my head was the plan for Beto and Don Mario to have one of our pigs, for Christmas (tradition). Neither of us knew they were coming today. That’s a four hour drive from San Jose to here. All of a sudden we’re thinking about what we can do to entertain them (drinking, fishing). House them (hotel). Etc. Without electricity, we can’t do anything. We barely have food (no refrigeration). What we do have is dry (rice, pasta) canned (beans, tuna) or in aluminum packets (pasta sauce).
We get back to our place and it’s almost five o’clock. They’d been waiting, happily, for a couple of hours. It’s dark in an hour. I make coffee (on the cook fire) and they make a bigger fire for the butchery. Turns out our guests are just here for the pig and turning around to return home right after because apparently Don Mario’s wife will not stay at home alone at night.
They dispatch with the pig so quickly, it’s amazing. We’re impressed. (Does everyone in Costa Rica know how to kill a pig?) But it’s still almost nine by the time they leave and poor Harry still has to install the pole. We’re talking digging a big ass hole, mixing concrete, installing the pole. All in the dark.
He’s at it until 2 am. Oh my god, he’s a total hero.
Tomorrow comes too soon.