Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A sort of Grand Old Duke of York day...

Statue with plaque saying: "Frederick Duk... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The car is due for its annual certificate of roadworthiness by the end of this month and The Men have just realised that this means Action.

Four new tyes are required.
Bargains have been quoted on the internet, on the eBay equivalent Mercado Libre, but the size required is not in stock.
The prices quoted by specialist tyre firms have left The Men blown backwards bowlegged.
Second hand tyre merchants have been searched.....no joy.
Second hand tyre merchants have offered to find the size required by the next day.
The Men now reckon that if the said merchant is closed for the three following days the tyres are not going to materialise.
A dodgy character said he could get the tyres, no problem, but he'd have to deliver them before dawn.
The Men reckoned this meant he would be stealing them from someone else's car after dusk and declined his offer.
The tyres are now coming up by bus from Panama where they are half the Costa Rica price.

The brakes have been overhauled, the suspension repaired....apart from the tyres, The Men are ready.

Then a mysterious red light showed on the dashboard.
What was it?
They found out when the car would not start. The battery was dead.
Why was the battery dead?
Since a red light was involved, clearly Something Electrical.

Something Electrical brings out the divergence between The Men.
Man A - Mr. Fly - knows very little about cars.
Man B - Danilo - knows a lot about cars.

Man A doesn't like spending money on cars.
Man B thinks it's an unfortunate necessity.

Man A decides on the local solution.
Man B goes along with this...it not being his money...while maintaining propaganda for the repairman extraordinaire and of last resort down at Cartago, the other side of the capital two hours drive away.

Accordingly they set off for the local man, a Cuban, who works from home, just downhill from the entrance to the town.
He investigates and announces that the problem is the generator.
Can he fix it?

Yes. He is a certificated Mercedes engineer.
But. As a certificated Mercedes engineer he knows that Mercedes hide the generator under the engine and he does not have a pit.
So. The Men have to drive up to the big builders' merchants on top of the hill to use the hoist to remove the engine.

Work stops in the yard as workmen, customers and the resident dog offer advice and assistance.
For some reason this is not in the least resented by the owner of the premises, himself offering advice and assistance.

Everything is unhitched and unhooked and the generator is carried back downhill - on foot - to the Cuban repairman.

He clears space on his kitchen table and looks at the item.
It is a sealed unit.
Sharp intakes of breath all round. Replacing one of those is big money.

Not to worry...we Cubans won't be beaten by Mercedes!
Man B sits down, overcome by the thought of what is about to happen.
Man A perks up, thinking of the potential savings.

The sealed unit is prised open.


What is it?

They've put plastic baffles in it so you can't get at the screws!
Not to worry, I'm from Cuba!

Man B is hyperventilating.

The repairman gets paper and pencil and logs the position of the screws from the visible portions.
He then takes a soldering iron and opens the plastic in accordance with his diagram.
Lo and behold...the screws.

Man A is smiling.

Items are removed..they appear to be arranged in layers...and are tested  individually.
Not until the repairman gets to the bottom does he find the rogue unit.

You'll have to get me a spare.

Off go The Men, uphill to the spares shop by the big garage at the entrance to the town.
No joy.

Off go The Men, downhill to the spares shop at the smaller garage opposite the school.
No joy.

What about Carlos?
He'll never have it...but there's nowhere else...

Off go The Men again, downhill through the town centre and uphill past the cigar factory, turning into the workshop of Carlos, collector of spare parts and repairer of strimmers.

A hunt ensues - and Carlos has the part! A Chinese knock off version.

Fifteen thousand colones change grubby hands and The Men trundle downhill to the town centre, stopping on the way to arrange to sell plantains to Marta and to invite Julio and his wife to supper, then uphill again to the repairman.

By this time space has been made on the kitchen table to fill a box with sealed vacuum packs of ham, ordered by a local caff.
The repairman also makes ham.
The Men are given a guided tour of his operation, beginning with pig and ending with smoker.
The Men buy a few packs themselves.

How much did you pay for the part?
Fifteen thousand.
That's cheap. I had to pay twenty five last time up at the top garage.
Which explained why the part was out of stock at the top garage.

The ham having been cleared away, the generator is reassembled under the eyes, not only of The Men, but a few neighbours who had dropped in to see what was going on.
The talk turned to politics.

Well, all these lefty guys, Chavez, your Castro...how do they get into power?
Easy. Think.....who are the majority - rich or poor?
Well, poor...
Then all you have to do is promise them something.
What about the next election though...when they haven't had it?
Oh, you don't have another one.

The generator is reassembled.

Right, get it back in and come back. I'll test it to make sure it's working.

Off go The Men, bearing the generator uphill to the builders' merchant.

Another joint effort sees the engine replaced and the bits and bobs hitched up.
The Men climb in, the engine starts and the assembled workmen, customers and dog wave them off.

The car stops abruptly.
Man B descends.

The steering's not working!

The bits and bobs are detached and rearranged.
Man B tries again and, this time with steering active, drives downhill to the repairman.

He tests the generator....no, power is no longer leaching from the battery. It's fine.

Except that, as Man B points out, the red light has come on again.

The afternoon is spent in a flurry of wiring, new terminals are attached, The Men are sent in all directions for bits and pieces and the neighbour comes back to say that Chavez is holding an election.

More fool him!

The repairman finally tidies it all up, tests the generator again and says

It's fine.

But the red light is still on.

Don't worry! I'm from Cuba!

Forty thousand colones change hands, the repairman throws in an extra pack of ham free and invites them to his next pig roast.

The Men drive uphill out of the town and then downhill over the gravel road to the house.

That red light is still on.

Don't worry about it. He's from Cuba!

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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Liebster Award

Joanne at cup on the bus has very kindly given me the Liebster Award.

Her blog is great fun...especially the geese... and I was delighted to discover that she too used to weave.
My loom is still sitting in the coach house in France - anyone want a house in France? - and I don't see myself taking up weaving again, but it was a fascinating hobby and nice to be reminded of it.

I follow the  Perpetua rules on awards...respect the spirit and don't get too hung up on the detail, so here are five blogs I would like to recommend...some you may know, others not, but I enjoy all of them.

From the Mayenne region, a corner of france is the blog of an enthusiastic musician who runs a group gite. It offers a commentary on daily life, with emphasis on gardens and plants, which rings very true to life.

Down in the hinterland of Lyon, Piglet in France gives another real life picture of daily life in France, from the view of one who came to France as a youngster and made her life there - definitely not your average living the dream blog!

In the Creuse - ex fief of new President Hollande and home to the Chirac clan - Ma Parole details the life of an expat estate agent - no living the dream there either.....

Further afield, I would urge you to read the the farm at the back of beyond and ask yourself if you can believe that this is life in Scotland in this century...a true shocker.

While to restore a sense of normality.off to Turkey for being koy - an intelligent and interesting account of life in a different culture.

I must apologise to Joanne for being so tardy....life, visitors and the start of the cricket season intervened.......and there are so many good blogs about that choice is difficult.

And while we're on the subject of awards, wouldn't it be fun to do anti awards.....

The Total Hogwash Award for some of the miserylit offerings...

The Sodding Croissants Award for the French living the dreamers...

The Exploitative Bastard Award for those peddling their wares under the guise of blogging...

But it wouldn't be in the spirit of blogging, would it!

And if ever anyone is kind enough to give me awards in the future I would be grateful if one of the conditions could demand that one gives thought about the ending of one's days because this morning - in the lunch interval of the Test Match at Lords - I found myself wondering if I will end up being the only person in the world who has both the words and the tune of 'The hole in the elephant's bottom.'

What a claim to fame!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Who are the sharks?

Costa Rica 2005 (5)Costa Rica 2005 (5) (Photo credit: Philippe Guillaume)Costa Rica promotes itself as being Green...Eco..you name it.

So tell me what is Green or Eco about fishing boats capturing sharks, stripping off their fins for the lucrative Chinese market and dumping the sharks back into the sea...to die slowly from drowning.

I have put up a petition on Avaaz


Please sign...please ask others to sign..please put pressure on the Costa Rican government to put its money where its mouth is...

and stop this torture.
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