June 14, 2010

Stay calm, Honduras

candle light

"Stay calm, Honduras," was the message from the Honduran government during a noon press conference today. Last night Honduras experienced a country-wide power outage. The problem arose from the "El Cajon" hydroelectric dam about 6:45 p.m. and within 8 minutes, the entire country was dark, with the exception of the Bay Islands which have their own electric systems. Some areas were restored within about 45 minutes, but others, like La Ceiba, were out for almost three hours.

Of course, we didn't know that it was a country-wide outage. We thought it was the typical La Ceiba outage, though it was longer than usual. In our area, we've been experiencing outages almost daily, usually ranging from quick blips in service to a few minutes in duration, but sometimes longer.

candle lightMore worrisome than a complete outage are those frequent times when the electricity slowly loses force, as if it was on a dimmer that someone was turning down, or the times that when the power comes back and it fluctuates between super strong to weak, pulsing back and forth (you can tell from the speed of the fan or the strength of the lights). Those types of issues are the ones that will burn out computers and appliances.

The main reason for the "stay calm" message was because of the coup rumors started by President Pepe Lobo recently. I have to admit that when the power didn't come back after 30 minutes or so, thoughts of coups did cross our minds, though I really don't put much store in those rumors. President Lobo is currently in South Africa. I imagine that it was the políticos who needed to stay calm more than the pueblo, most of whom also do not give much credence to the coup rumor.

I also remembered back to the frequent all day Saturday or Sunday outages under President Maduro, which were attributed to performance of maintenance but I always thought were actually electricity rationing. In the first years of President Zelaya's term, we frequently had outages on Saturday or Sunday nights in which I always joked that Zelaya wanted us to go to bed by 9 p.m. I'm always suspicious when the power goes out exactly on the hour, aren't you?

Apparently the outage in Honduras also caused interruptions to electric systems in Guatemala and El Salvador. The outage was caused by faulty equipment. The damaged transformer is expected to cost 1.5 million Euros to replace, money which Honduras certainly does not have to spare.

The stars were really beautiful last night with no man-made lights to obscure them!

reading by candlelight, HondurasBy the way, I recently bought a battery operated LED book light and it was fantastic for navigating the house in the dark as well as for reading until the power came back! Much better than reading by candlelight as I used to (try to) do.

And finally, La ENEE had better make sure that nothing like this happens during the World Cup games! I don't even want to think about the kinds of riots we would have.
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