Monday, January 17, 2011
Solar in Alcapulco
I glance up the street away from the beach and see a "Solar Energy" sign. First I think this must be the solar water heater business I saw in Colima.
Then I look more closely and think I should check it out, just in case. My solar is failing at night, earlier and earlier. It used to fail in the wee hours of the morning, or when I tried to use a light when the fridge was running; but now it fails an hour after dark.
I have tried turning down my refrigerator and limiting my use of any appliance to when it is full sun. I also turn off my fridge at night when I need lights or to connect my computer.
But it is still getting weaker and weaker. And I’m worried I might need new batteries, as they are taking water every week now.
I turn off the main drag and walk down the block past the hotel and another few security guards standing in front of tall gates, to the Solar business, which has it's own rolling yellow iron gate in front of it.
I peer through the grated park of the gate and can see a couple of men sitting in an enclosed office off to the right. I don't know how to whistle so I rap my keys against the metal and yell "hola".
Finally one of the men hears me and comes out. I speak with him as well as I can - these are new Spanish words I need - solar system, energy, electricity, failing, HELP!
He brings me inside the metal gate into the office and there sits Guillermo, an older man who not only is a Solar expert but can do it in english!
AND he also knows my truck, exactly where it is parked, and what it says! He actually lives in the building next to where I am parking!
Talk about being at the right place at the right time.
Guillermo tells me he is the ONLY solar business in the entire state of Guerrero - and I happen to glance down a street and park down another street that will enable me to connect with him.
He promises me that they will come and take a look at my system after he has lunch.
I hope this is not yet another unfulfilled promise!
Is it the mafia or is it veggie oil?
I wonder if there is a casino here and that's why the heavy police and security guard presence. Or just to help make all the rich people feel even more special.
I approach the front desk, slipping authoritatively by their first line of defense, and ask the womon there if I can please speak with Senor Diaz. She wants to know what for and I do not want to explain that I want veggie oil.
Instead I tell her I was here on Saturday and Fernando told me I should speak with the senor. She keeps trying to understand me, and me her. Finally she calls his office and lets me know he is in a meeting.
I ask should I wait, when the meeting will be over, or should I return? She says in an hour. Then she tells me wait a minute and calls again, this time putting me on the phone.
His secretary tries to talk with me and it is even worse. The line is terrible, I can't hear that well, and there's a lot of noise in the open lobby - open to the swimming pool with lots of excited, happy children.
Finally, I am politely told to take a seat.
I am used to waiting at the Welfare Department and Motor Vehicles so I settle in for a long wait but soon a man in a bland uniform comes and asks me if I'm the senora who wants to speak with Sr. Diaz.
He leads me up a flight of gorgeous marble stairs, into a large green plants and wooden lined hallway and another office, where I am told to sit.
It occurs to me that if there is a casino here, maybe I'm going to be talking with the mafia. As it is, the hotel by itself is an amazing opportunity for those that have money to buy their moments of superiority!
I can hear men's voices coming out of a closed door. The secretary smiles broadly at me and makes me feel at home, as she busily returns to her papers.
Soon a man leaves and Sr. Diaz raises his voice to the secretary to send me in.
I go in and immediately begin by apologizing for my poor Spanish to which he says in english "feel free to speak in english" - which I do.
He is sitting behind a massive desk with little on it, nice suit and tie, fingers tented, as he looks somewhere near my crown.
I explain I'm a traveler looking for veggie oil, why I need it, and why I need him to approve.
He then gives me the standard brush-off line: he would gladly give me oil but, low and behold, someone has already picked it up.
I try to contain my astonishment – how could those other collectors of veggie oil know to race over here and snatch that oil.
I give him my standard ‘please reconsider line’ and tell him I just need the oil one time, I am traveling and can’t leave town until I get veggie oil.
Then, Mr. Cool blows it. He tells me that he is so sorry but they came just last week and picked up everything.
Well, now I knew I had him. I told him there are still three containers that were not picked up last week.
He is now looking me in the eye, but still not convinced I can tell. I tell him on Saturday, that’s the day before yesterday and not last week, not only did I actually see the containers, but I actually had one container on my truck and was putting the others on my truck when I was stopped and told he was the only one who could authorize giving the oil to me.
His mouth drops open the same time he grabs the phone. He asks me who did I speak with. I want to tell him I don’t remember but I already told the womon at the desk Fernando told me to talk with Sr. Diaz.
He calls the kitchen and confirms that yes, indeed, there are 3 containers of oil; and yes indeed, I did have them on my truck.
I don’t know what else he was told but he smiles at my crown again and tells me the oil will be waiting for me downstairs!
BONANZA! YEAH!!! Wow, there’s nothing like securing three 20 liter (almost) containers of veggie oil to make a Joiyssey sparkle!
I get lost trying to remember how to get back to the lobby but eventually find my way without setting off any alarms or security men with their arms! I approach the guard’s shack and see the containers piled right there.
I tell guards there I will go get my truck and be right back. They are all smiling and gracious, but they don’t help me lug the containers to my truck. Fortunately, I am strong and I have parked really close!