Monday, August 15, 2011

Forever House #6: My Scavenger Hunt to Find Electricity

...our journey to rent free living, all the entertainment minus the headaches.

Sometimes we feel like we are living one big scavenger hunt to get anything done:

Last month a technician from the power company stopped by our land and told Lico that they were putting up posts in our neighborhood. We are not connected to the grid yet but were told by the Mayor (who we just happened to meet and become friends with) that everything was paid to bring in posts all the way to the corner of our property. This technician told Lico that it wasn't coming all the way to our property, but that if I would go to the power company office and pay Q80, they would put in a post just for me.

So the following Monday I headed off to the office. I wasn't sure what paperwork they would need, but I took everything I had: passport, DL, Deed to property, water bill, receipt for property tax payment... anything that had my name attached to the property. I arrived on Monday to find a line all the way to the street. After 2 hours of waiting I finally made it inside the building where after waiting another 20 minutes the nice lady told me that I didn't have what I needed. Apparently, in addition to the paperwork I had brought with me I also needed to go to the Mayor's office in San Pancho and get an authorization for right of way for the company. I also needed to find the closest neighbor with electricity and bring a copy of their bill.

So the next Wednesday I set out to do all of this. First I went to the Mayor's office (a new Mayor since our friend is running for congress now). After waiting in the land development area I was told to go talk to the Secretary. He told me he could write up what I needed, but first I had to get authorization from the Mayor. Once I was finally able to speak to the Mayor, he had no idea what I was talking about and just flipped through my papers. I told him that the Secretary knew what to do so he said, "Ok, tell him it's approved." I walked back over to the Secretary's office and said, "He said it's approved." He didn't even get up from his desk to check. He typed up my letter to the power company and 15 minutes later signed it and I was on my way.

Then I had to find an electric bill from my closest neighbor. This I did by driving around looking for wires hanging off of a pole. It's farther away than you would think. They didn't even know who I was nor where my house was, and EVERYBODY knows that. The problem here was that they didn't want to give me the bill because they hadn't paid it yet. They didn't have any past bills apparently because their power was cut off for a few months and this was the first bill since they reconnected it. This bill also included the cost of installation. I offered to pay it for them if they would give me the money, but "fijese" their check hadn't come in yet this month. So the only way was to offer to pay it for them and let them pay me back later. This cost was $40 and I hold little hope of getting it back.

With all of my paperwork now in hand I headed to the office where the wait was only 40 minutes this time, but with only one lady working everybody behind me had to wait another 20 minutes for my paperwork to be done. The truth is that very little of what I had was necessary. They took down the client number from my neighbor's bill, glanced at the right of way permission, took my name off of the passport photocopy and asked me for $10. Then I was told that within 3 months they would hook up my electricity but since the guys were there working already it shouldn't take that long. We shall see.

Update: As of last week the guys installed the posts. We are going by our land today on the way to meet Domingo for a new Kekchi village outreach. We will see if there are any wires yet!

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