Scenes From Rural Life

Last week, as we were having lunch, there was an explosion and the power went out.

Six hours later, service was resumed. It appears that the transformer up the road had gone tits up.

A few days later, another explosion…and no power. But this time the electricity board’s technicians knew where to look, so we had power again in three hours.

The young man across the road explained proudly that the outages had been caused by branches from a tree on their finca becoming entangled in the cables, bringing two of which together thus causing the transformer to tranform no more.

Why did he not cut the offending branch after the first outage?

He could not. His inamorata had sold his chainsaw to pay something to the Colombian exortion racket to whom she was in debt….the chainsaw was worth about fifty quid…she had reduced her debt by only fifteen….

Leo suggested to him that when the Colombians returned for the rest of the debt she allowed them to take her son hostage, which would rid the area of a very unpleasant youngster. Preferably permanently. He brightened at the idea, but thought she would not come up for it.

If ever there was a type to be removed from society, preferably with finger joints removed one by one, it is this teenager.

We stopped him from hanging little Zuniga…we made a complaint, but nothing happened…grandad has a lot of friends…

In the meantime our car had to go for the RITEVE…the annual roadworthiness test, ….which is becoming stricter by the year. No longer can you change your tyres with the men with a van who lurk in the parking area of the test site….

It failed on two points. The back passenger door did not open. It does, but you need to know how. And emissions.

The Japanese tin box is as old as the hills, but perfect for where we live and what we do …….so, action this day!

Alvarado sorted the door, and Minor Retana up in the town sorted the emissions…that is to say he limited the amount of diesel getting to the engine, so you had to crawl up hills and could not take a steep gradient, but the emisssions would be reduced accordingly.

RITEVE passed, and off to Minor to put the motor back to itself.

Now, before the greens start kicking up, we do not belch black smoke when on the road unlike those public service vehicles who seem to pass the RITEVE painlessly…..possibly plata vincit omnia.

The Men went to investigate the progress of the television repair with the Twins.

No it was not ready…the supplier had sent the wrong card twice….

I only learned this after the return of the Men when Danilo started by sweeping the microwave onto the trolley.

He then went out to the car and staggered in under the biggest microwave I had ever seen. A stainless steel monster from a Sci-fi film….incubating humanoids…..

The egg trays, the toaster and the coffee machine joined the microwave.

I opened the door, and found rust in the hinge.

It is secondhand, said Leo, I saw it at the Twins when we went to enquire about the television repair and thought it would be useful.

It heats water, said Danilo.

I was despatched for a potato for demonstration purposes and on the vast turntable it looked like a pimple on a round of beef.

Door closed, Danilo at the controls.

Nothing happened, except that a message shot across the screen at the top of the control panel…’door closed’. Otiose, or designed for those who do not believe the evidence of their own eyes.

Danilo pressed something invisible to me, not, given the strange titles on the control panel, that vision would have helped.


The Men moved to consultation mode.

I left them to it and tried to find an instruction manual on the net…in the background, noises off of the nature of

‘well it worked when he did it’

‘but what did he press?’

‘something down here…’

‘oh look, the message has changed..’

I finally tracked down the model and the mystery was explained….the whole control panel was touch sensitive, and the ‘buttons’ on the lower part of the brute had been rubbed off over the years, so if any dab at it worked it would be at hazard…you would have to mark the dab if something worked.Turning to the mad scientists to explain my findings I found them replacing the potato with a bowl of water.

Catching my expression Danilo said ‘Well, it heated water…..’

The Thing was returned to the Twins with contumely, and I now have to test all the eggs before use as I have no idea which tray is which.

TheNeighbour has been up to mischief again…but even though he did not succeed I am too angry to write about it. As yet.


26 thoughts on “Scenes From Rural Life”

  1. Drives me nuts at times too!
    It’s like living with Alice’s White Knight.
    I just hope the ‘can do’ element of life here does not get strangled by bureacracy as systeme D was in rural France…
    I shall recount The Neighbour’s dastardly plan in due course…that is to say when every other word is not one best neither heard nor read in polite society.

  2. Power restored!
    It is similar to life in rural France…power cuts, lines down,….never a dull moment.
    Still, the coffee is making and then we’ll sit out in the shade and enjoy the views.

  3. Trials and tribulations again Helen but at least the car is OK for another 12 nonths. I hope it’s third time lucky for a permanant repair of the transformer and that byou get a break from the neighbours stupidity for a while.
    Huge Hugs

    1. Thank you.Hugs very welcome! Power has returned!
      Most of the time we can ignore them…our house is well back from the road that lies between us…but stupidities that inconvenience the whole area are too much.
      I want to keep the jalopy in the road for another year as by then Leo’s disability papers should have come through – delayed by COVID is the excuse – and then we can get a significent tax reduction on something of later vintage. We’ll still keep this one for work on the finca, though even if no longer roadworthy, if only because Danilo’s dog sleeps in it overnight.

    1. It’s not all that out of the ordinary if you live in the country in France and then Costa Rica. It’s just that most people don’t write down their observations.
      You might like Susie Kelly’s books on her life in France….

  4. A transformer explosion is not an ordinary explosion! I live on a road of nine homes. In thirty odd years it never was considered important that nine homes were without electricity. Ten, perhaps, but never nine. My sister finally bought a natural gas powered generator. It takes a lot to stop the flow of natural gas.

  5. Certainly not! We had to have one removed while we were in France and there was a pile of health and safety stuff, and a designated place to dump it. It cost a fortune.
    Having gone up three times in a couple of weeks, the electricity board finaly came to cut down offending branches today…..

  6. We have moved…down the road about 50metres (but to a different street!) and are wrestling with silly things…like digustingly gunky toilet cysterns) and drippy gutters…
    But here, if tree branches threaten power lines, the electricty chaps come along with a BIG truck, fitted with a scissor-lift and all the chaps deemed necessary by Elphin Safety to prune said offending limbs. Bloody brill, innit! Well,yes, but there are still idiots with guns who think it’s hilarious to shoot out the transformer pole. Strange thing is…this doesn’t happen when there’s footy match on telly…

    1. Moving anywhere is hell…..
      The electricity board is supposed to do line clearing here, but there is a complication,,,,,they have to check with the environment ministry as to whether the tree is question is protected…you can imagine the bureaucracy…so in practice nothing gets done. This branch, however, is clearly not protected!

  7. Once again I am deeply touched at Leo’s sensitivity towards the wayward youth. Your car inspection saga brought back memories of my days in Guam. To pass the car inspections way back back then it was de riguer to place a case of beer on the back seat before entering the inspection station. One then left the car, walked around to the other side of the building and waited. In due course the car, but not the beer, appeared with all paperwork properly completely. We’ve ha a couple planned power outages ( 8PM to 6AM) but they are only mildly inconvenient except tht neighbors have to listen to my gas generator all night. That doesn’t delight the neighbors but Ihad no choice as the AJF gave me strict instructions to run the generator with the refrigerators plugged so as to preserve her stash of Japanese delicacies.

  8. Yes, the good old days have gone here, too…
    There used to be a large van in the forecourt of the testing centre where one could swap bald tyres for those with the required depth of tread and then return them on exiting the test area…yet another traditional metier lost….
    We have been wondering about a generator, or storage batteries as it is so dangerous for Leo when the lights fail at night…but as far as your neighbours are concerned, squirrel man can just get on with it.

  9. For all of my childhood I used to imagine electrcity as greeen jelly. It was only as an adult that I finally realised that electricty if in fact smoke in varying shades of white to very dark grey. I am wary of transformers stuck up telegraph poles even in Ing-er-lund – bunged up there decades earlier, not checked since the last Post Office Morris Minor van was crushed at the scrap yard, and overloaded by the current demands (oops, sorry) – I distrust the way that they always hum so.., and I give them a wide berth.

    1. I share your distrust. I strongly suspect that the nearest transformer is being used by those who are illegally connected, but as they are well connected in another sphere of life nothing will be done.

  10. I must say a book on your life in Costa would be an international bestseller.
    Especially the bit where you get the kid over the road to murder the neighbour thus losing two at one go and then bringing in better neighbours after selling their land. You will get a film and a TV series (though they will replace you with yankees.)
    I always say the best way to work as a terrorist is to cut the power. No need for violence, that will come from the citizens, just cut the power and annoy everyone.
    Glad to see Leo up and about. The chapters in the book/film about he and Danilo’s adventures together will be great! Real Laurel and Hardy stuff there.

  11. I guarantee you credits as originator of the idea for the film…..
    Wait untl you hear The Neighbour’s latest wheeze…I’ll relate it when I calm down…and work through the mountain of ‘things to do’ after a shopping day in San Jose…..hocks to cure and smoke, fish likewise…tongues to make into brawn, peppers to skin and lay down in oil…
    As to Leo and Danilo, that famous phrase from Laurel and Hardy comes to mind…’you do your work and I will do mine…’

  12. Golly gosh. I don’t know how you cope and retain your sanity and sense of humour. It DOES make for very interesting reading though. I think by now I would have run screaming into the jungle and moved in with the sloths.

    1. There are things in that jungle which make me prefer home sweet home…
      No worse thah rural France, in reality…power cuts, refractory staff at France Telecom before it disguised itself as Orange, Men having Good Ideas, ……..

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