Our first power outage

A couple of days ago, at around 5:00, we had three power brownouts back to back as a thunderstorm hit with some wind. I immediately quit work early and started unplugging electronics, just as the power went completely out.

Chapala lightningThe storm was spectacular, and as the sun set at 8:30 I went up on the terraza to try photographing the lightning. With the neighborhood completely dark, I figured I could get some great shots. But I didn’t have a clear view, and no experience, so my efforts were mediocre. Besides, there were only 5 or 6 bolts clearly articulated in the sky during that time, so I didn’t have much of a chance anyway.

Chapala lightning(I could have climbed all the way on the roof of the stairwell, which would have given an unobstructed view. But I figured being the highest point on the building during a lightning storm wasn’t the best idea.)

The kids were able to fall asleep without trouble, as did my wife and I. But when the power wasn’t on by morning, we started wondering how widespread it was and whether there would be school. (There was nothing on the power company website that I could see. I also checked the Twitter, but there were only a handful of tweets about power outages in Chapala over the last 3 years, with the most recent from months before, so that didn’t tell us anything.)

Sunrise wasn’t until just a few minutes before school started. So we got the kids ready in the dark and left for school, just in case it wasn’t cancelled.

Three things I learned that day:

1. Power company workers only work 8:00-5:00. So when the power went off at 5:00, it wasn’t going to come back on until 9:00 at the earliest. Which is when it actually came back on.

2. City water only pumps for a few hours a day. Every house has water storage, in our case on the roof. A pump—with requires power—pushes it up to the tank. So with no power, you need to conserve water, because once the tank is empty, you’ve got no water till the power comes back on. So thankfully the pitch black bathrooms kept us out of the showers, or that might not have gone well for the toilets.

3. We’re connected to a substation in a neighborhood with tons of trees, which loses power more often than the next neighborhood over. That’s where the school is, and they didn’t lose power. So even with no power, kids gotta get to school.

So, the kids went to school without showers. I’m sure their classmates didn’t mind.

Now we gotta get some more flashlights.

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