Thursday, June 6, 2013

How Many Guatemalans Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?

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San Pedro

(Writer’s Note: It was my intention to post this yesterday. However, nature intervened last night and knocked out the Internet. It wasn’t returned until some time this morning or early afternoon. Next up will be: A Chicken Bus Virgin No More;  A Short Trip to Sololá. Sololá is the capital of the department of Sololá, which includes the pueblos around the Lake.)

ID-10047486It really only takes one Guatemalan to change a light bulb, but this morning it became an international team effort, which included myself; Ventura, the guardian; and Rosenda, his wife. Of course, I can change a light bulb – I can even change a flat tire if I have to, although I wouldn’t attempt it on my SUV – but this morning I needed help with it because a bulb had blown last night in the kitchen fixture, which must be 10 or more feet above the floor and required a ladder to reach. So I had to enlist Ventura’s help.

Mood Lighting Meets Its Match

The fixture has three light bulbs in it; one of them was already out when I moved into the house, so the kitchen was pretty dim to begin with. Solina, the landlady, and I have completely different opinions when it comes to lighting. She’s more into “mood lighting” while I’m more about being able to see what it is I’m doing.When I was here last, staying

in the apartment, one of the first things I did was to increase the wattage of all the bulbs in the kitchen fixture. That fixture I could easily reach by standing on a chair. When Solina saw what I had done, her reaction was not unlike a vampire seeing the dawn’s first light. But when I’m cooking, or washing dishes, I want to be able to see clearly what it is I’m doing.

When the bulb blew last night, I was left with one 60 watt bulb in the fixture to illuminate the entire kitchen, and dangling about 10 feet above the floor, that one bulb wasn’t illuminating much of anything.

A Bear and a Pain in the Butt

The fixture was an absolute bear to disassemble to get to the bulbs. While Ventura sweated trying to get the globe off the fixture, handing the parts to Rosenda as she stood opposite on the ladder, the most I could do was to offer my encouragement. The best I could come up with was “¡Que un dolor en ‘the butt’!” I’m sure no translation is necessary. I didn’t know the Spanish word for “butt,” but for sure Ventura understood what it was I was trying to say because he started to laugh. Later, when he was having yet more difficulty with fixture, I was moved to say, “What a piece of s*@t!”  a good, solid Anglo-Saxon expletive. Ventura looked puzzled, and my dictionary failed to provide any translation. I don’t know about you, but I find that expletives help tremendously in these types of situations, and there’s nothing quite like an Anglo-Saxon expletive at that.

No CFC’s

When Ventura was finally able to get at the bulbs, he was going to replace them with CFC bulbs. I’m all about saving the planet and conserving energy as much as the next guy. At home I keep my water heater at the recommended 120°F.; wash only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine; try to keep the A/C at round 78°F.; and turn off the lights when I leave the room. But I absolutely, positively will not abide CFC bulbs. The light they emit is dim and sickly, and I regret not stocking up on 60 watt incandescent bulbs before they were phased out in the U.S.

Perfect Souvenirs

Fortunately, all the incandescent bulbs you would want, ranging from 25 on up to 100 watts, are available right here at Super Quik in San Juan, my very best favorite store where they have things I didn’t even know I needed yet. When I saw that Ventura was about to screw in those dreaded CFC bulbs, I called a halt to the proceedings and said that I would go out and get the bulbs myself. So I hustled over to San Juan where I picked up four 60 watt incandescent bulbs and threw in a 100 watt for good measure to replace the CFC already in the floor lamp. The cost? These were Sylvania bulbs, baby, made in Costa Rica and cost just Q4, or about 52¢ a bulb. It occurs to me that as 60 watt light bulbs get increasingly harder to find in the States as they’re being phased out, they might be the perfect souvenir to bring home.

As soon as I got home, I turned the bulbs over to Ventura, who immediately placed them in the fixture. Rosenda wasn’t available to help him, so I was more than happy to oblige and assist him. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference three 60 watt light bulbs have made in the kitchen. At least, I can see what I’m doing and I don’t have to wait for the morning light to see to wash my dishes.

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