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Thursday, March 24, 2011

S#*%-!. It Happens!

Ha ha, count again! This is not the word my dad says, like the name of that new TV show. I just couldn't help myself. S#*%-! in this case stands for Strike.

It seems that in most expat blogs (ours included) we tend to concentrate on the upbeat, rosy colored expat life. So as to give a slightly truer sense of life down here, I'll mention 2 types of Strikes!

Labor strikes, we were recently effected by a propane shortage caused by striking workers. Most outlying communities rely on Garrafas (propane tanks) rather than on natural gas to supply our fuel needs. Our cook stove is run on such a tank. Ordering a new tank is fairly easy. You call and usually within 10 minutes they come to your house and bring you a filled tank to switch your empty one for. The basis for the strike was that the tanks are heavy, anywhere from 25-30 Kgs. (55-66 lbs.) Other workers for Ancap (the oil and a concrete company)  are prohibited from handling bags of concrete for instance, in excess of 25kgs but this didn't cover propane tanks.

The conflict and end of the strike was met by a shorter work week from 44 hours down to 40 hours and an increase in pay of 3%. The weight issue was bypassed in favor of the hours and pay.

Okay, This strike didn't really effect us. We were simply made aware of it. We, (read I) didn't ever want to be caught in the middle of dinner, waiting, for a refill to show up. So I insisted on buying and having a spare tank already filled with propane in our storage cabinet. That way in a minute or two Wally could change them out and we could continue cooking. Usually we would call the next day, for the now empty "spare tank" to be refilled.

Boy, am I glad we had 2 tanks because our gas ran out on day 1, of a week's strike. Hey, I know, what a wimp- only a week. Still had we only had the one tank, we would have had no propane to cook with at all. As it is, today, Thursday is the first day back to work for the strikers and they aren't up to taking orders yet. I'm glad our spare tank was full. We should be good for several weeks on this one tank until the other tank gets filled. In the past I had heard of a shortage that lasted so long they only filled tanks half full (way before our time). So in true expat style (read excessive) my "Costco" training kicking in.  I will be buying a 3rd tank. This way, one will be in use, with 2, to spare for future contingencies. Sorry, woman worry mode in action.

Lightning strikes, happen quite frequently in Uruguay. I've read about several other expats who have lost computers, and other items up and running during thunderstorms. Wally usually poo poos my worries but then last year I got up during the night and saw our cook stove sparking. While it runs on gas, the broiler is electric. I only knew it was on fire because I saw a strange reflection on a piece of furniture and followed the glow back to the stove. We never did fix that broiler. Now, whenever we are home and I see lightning flashes, we have a ritual of unplugging computers and everything else except the refrigerator, because of food spoilage issues. We also turn off circuit breakers at the main panel. If the refrigerator ever  goes at least it's only one big ticket item. Even our phone is pulled out of it's phone jack, transformers should be pulled out too as I heard of an Expat's house getting zapped through that.

So, now you know a little of the down side of living here in uruguay! Did I mention the winds? Oh well, another time.


wordNerd said...

I am visiting Punta del Este and we had the same thunder and lightning storm here. The lighting was beautiful reflected in the clouds. Several strikes sounded like they hit within a mile. That is no surprise because of all the tall buildings here.

I did make sure that my laptop was unplugged. I really don't want to lose it to lightning on a trip. At home in the US it would be easier to replace, and I would not spend my vacation time rebuilding my system.

I have only seen it rain that hard two or three other times in my life. Luckily it only lasted a day.

Alfonso said...

Here at home we never had problems with lightings, so it seems strange to me. Could that be because of the lack of a "cable a tierra"? (sorry, I don't know how to say it in english, but I hope you understand)

Anonymous said...

...just last night i unplugged our computers, modem, router etc as the weatherman said we were going to get a storm at about 1.00am....needless to say we didn't get a drop of rain or even hear any thunder/lightning. I always unplug equipment if i am home and stormy weather is expected.

Keep up the good work with the blog