This is the first in a week-long series of excerpts from my work in progress.
When we built our home we were advised to bypass the electric company for the initial installation of electricity. We were told it was so problematic to deal with them that we would wait months for service. The best course of action was to hire an electrician to install our electricity, and wait for the company to find our illegal hookup. They then cut your line, come to negotiate a payment plan and reconnect you. I didn’t like the idea of stealing service, but since we had been doing business in Mexico for five months we knew that dealing with any company was difficult, and we did not want to wait months for light.
Felipe bought 1200 meters of electric cable and found a professional electrician to do the technical work. They drove the two, four-foot in diameter spools of cable to the top of the ridge where the line we were to connect to was located. The spools would have to be rolled down cliffs and through the forest manually. Felipe was hoping for some assistance with the physical aspect of keeping the spools from getting away from him, and climbing the trees to attach the wire. Unfortunately, our electrician was a bit pudgy and out of shape. He was very little help curtailing the rolls and certainly didn’t climb any trees. Though I suppose tree climbing is not generally in an electrician’s job description.
It took four days to install the line. Felipe returned at the end of each day cut, bruised and exhausted; but, we would have light, music, refrigeration and a washing machine. Our service was uninterrupted for a year with the exception of storms, which is normal here, and it can be out for a day to a week. We were amazed, not intending to purloin the service to that degree.
During a trip to the states I lost contact with Felipe. This is not unusual as cell phone service in our area is very poor. After three weeks I was concerned, but in our usual, well, it will work out one way or another mode, I got back on the plane hoping he’d be there when I arrived, and he was. After a long hug of relief to be in each other’s presence again, he said,
“I have some bad news.”
It is my greatest anxiety, that something will go wrong while I’m away, like my dog will die. I try not to worry ever, but not speaking for a month makes that more difficult. My heart was in my throat as I waited for him to explain.
“Our electricity has been disconnected. That’s why you couldn’t get a hold of me.”
“Ahh,” I said, knowing that the phone must be charged frequently and it doesn’t stay charged long.
“And,” he said, “They took over 200 meters of our cable.”
“Eeek!” I cried.
The cable was expensive. There would also be connecting charges, fines or bribes and who knew what else. My first thought was, don’t overreact, Felipe has been doing this without any help for a month now, and getting upset won’t help. And next, how long will we be without. At that point it looked like about four months, until we harvested our sorghum and corn and made some money .