Eternity in an Hour

I cannot believe how much has happened over the last couple of days. It feels like I’ve lived a week since Monday night.

The big news this week was Tropical Storm Franklin, which has just gotten upgraded to the first hurricane of the 2017 season and is battering gulf coastal Mexico from Campeche to Veracruz. Mérida and Progreso were on the outskirts of the path, so we really weren’t expecting much to happen. I still made sure Monday night to shut down with all my appliances fully charged so that if I woke up to no power and internet, as Franklin was supposed to roll in over night, I’d be set. I also arranged for a light work day.

Well, Franklin wound up being a dud here. I’m really glad I did not stress out about it!

But… 3:30 yesterday afternoon, I lost power.

It wasn’t until almost 8:00 that I realised that I was the only one on the block without power, clueing in when I saw the streetlights and my neighbours’ lights on. I called the solar guy and he said that all I could do was call CFE (the power company) and he gave me the emergency number and walked me through the steps.

The number has been down for a solid 24 hours. I never managed to reach CFE by phone. I tried the Progreso office this morning and the two times someone picked up, they let me say about three words before saying, “No hablo ingles,” and hanging up quite rudely. Wow.

I did, however, make contact with them via Twitter, of all things. Last contact was at 8:45 when they asked me for my service number.

I had a fitful night because the power would come on for about 30 seconds every few hours and it kept waking me up even though I had turned off most of the breakers. I didn’t want to shut them all in case the power did come back so that the fridge would turn on.

When I finally got up at 7:45, I saw a message from CFE at 7:00 saying that they had dispatched crews to my area.

I was sure I knew what the problem was. The house has new “smart” meters that have very low tolerance to low voltage situations, even if they’re not at brownout levels. Over a series of exchanges on Twitter, I learned that this was what was happening and that others with smart meters in my area were also affected. So I knew not to expect a work crew at the house.

Somehow, I got through a ridiculous amount of work today. I kept the phone and computer charged through the truck battery. Get this — TelCel had gifted me a whole GB of data, so I didn’t have to pay anything for the bandwidth that got me through last night and most of today! I’m pretty sure TelCel has my business for life at this point.

It was about 5:20 when the power started to come on for 30 seconds and then shut right off. This went on until about 5:45, literally as I submitted my final job for the day, and then the power finally seemed ready to stay on. I let it go for a bit, then turned on the AC in my suite. All seemed good. My UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for the computer is advises me of power issues and said that all was good so I eventually turned on the other units.

What was frustrating during this outage is that the property has a grid tied solar system that was useless to me. My friend Shane wrote a very informative bit about grid tied solar and why it is incompatible with batteries. I’ll post it in the comments for those who are interested. Thanks, Shane!

Needless to say, I needed a cold beer after this and was very grateful to have La Barca within walking distance. I had a really surprisingly good burger with XX Ambar that helped restore my mood immensely.

Now, while all of this has been going on over the last 48 hours, I’ve also been organising a marathon house viewing schedule tomorrow! I’m seeing three houses for sure, five very likely, and possibly six!

First up is a house in Montecarlo (seriously, I really am moving up in the world, LOL). The exterior made me realise that I need to add covered parking to my List and the location is probably too far northeast, but at $7,000 a month, it will be worth a look. It has one of the better kitchens I’ve seen, with tons of counter space, a double sink (!), and no grimy cabinets. It unfortunately has those floors and that wall colour throughout, which is doing nothing for it.

The agent for this one has two nicer houses to show me, but I don’t know if I’ll have time to fit them in before my next appointment. They are $10,000 a month each, so it would be interesting to see what the extra money will get me.

The next house is also up there price-wise at $9,000, but by far the best location so far, right by the main north-south street (Calle 60) and the northernmost edge of the neighbourhood is only 5KM from the heart of Centro. This is the first house that I’m going to see that I think could be my first hard consideration. It also suffers from unfortunate blandness, but has some nice built-ins.

I’m curious about the third house as there are no inside photos. The agent says that it has the layout I want, but is “small.” That might actually be a good thing. Many of the houses I’m looking at are way more house than I need! This one is in Campestre, which many Mexicans have told me should be where I would be happiest. I dismissed the neighbourhood last year as being too far north, but now it’s in the running. The outside looks cute and it’s only $6,500.

Finally, there is a house that I may not be able to see until the weekend, but they’ll try to fit me in late tomorrow afternoon. So far in my house search, I’ve gotten butterflies in my belly twice, and this house is one of them. The first house that caused those butterflies is not available. This one is. I had a very definite idea in my head of what I wanted my first real Mexican home to look like and this house is the first I’ve seen that matches that vision, as evidenced by this room:

Look at those windows and doors! This is a house built for this climate.

It is way more house than I need (three bedrooms and two baths upstairs, maid’s room with bath and a study on the ground floor!) and $9,000 a month, but it speaks to me and I will not ignore it.

These houses all represent such a variety of prices, styles, and locations that I should feel ready after to make an educated decision and to start asking about things like internet service in the neighbourhood. Tomorrow is going to be a huge day, but I’m glad I’m going to fit in so many viewings!