Coconut and Electricity

Since moving to Uruguay, I developed an unexplained passion for cooking with coconut. It’s not that coconut is necessarily a national Uruguayan dish. It’s just that coconut milk and chopped coconut is easily available, wherever you go. Behold! My pollo milanese topped with strawberries, shrimp coconut and balsamic vinegar:

Milanese with Strawberries, Shrimp, Coconut, and Balsamic Vinegar
Milanese With Strawberries, Shrimp, Coconut and Balsamic Vinegar

As this is a coastal town, seafood is easily available, at highly affordable prices. On Friday evening, our little town was experiencing one of those Dixie-like storms, the kind that reminded me of our year in Raleigh, North Carolina. Powerful and dramatic, the thunders out loud and clear, like a Sunday morning hymn in a gospel church.

I love this type of storm, even though the sound of thunder scares the living daylights out of me, unlike the non-stop whimpering of the rain in the Pacific Northwest, which goes on and on and on, like the girl who never stops moaning over her unrequited love. But I digress.

Deciding that this was a perfect night for seafood and coconut soup, I opened one bottle on coconut milk, and poured its contents into the pot. Halfway through opening the second bottle, the sound of a rather expressive thunder-boomer sent reverberations through my body, causing a fountain of coconut to spray into my face with the force of the water that sprays out of the Uruguayan bidets.

So here I am with coconut milk all over my face (I know what you’re thinking, but don’t go there!) trying to get to the bathroom sink without falling into the cat litter. As the female incarnation of Mr. Julot, that would be something I’d do, but in real life, these things are not that funny.

After a meager attempt at cleaning up, I found a flashlight and verified that all of the switches in my circuit box were in the upright position. Then,  I looked out my window and saw that the lights were also out in my neighbors’ houses.  Okay , this was just one of those occasional blackouts. Power is usually restored within 10 to 20 minutes. Five minutes latter, there was power to all the people, but no power to me. (with apologies to the political anarchists of the 1970s)

Still no power the next morning. I went toCiudad Jardin, our rental agent, and informed Marcelo Karp. Marcelo contacted UTE, the electric company, who told him that they would arrive within two hours.

Meanwhile, I went to La Pasiva, a local restaurant with free Wi-Fi. I had been told that it also has an electric outlet, but for the life of me, I could not find it. Turns out, it is hidden behind a huge plant. The outlet shares power with the same out that powers the television, so be careful when you crawl around under the plant – especially if there’s a game on!

La Pasiva meal
La Pasiva

By the way, if you need free Wi-Fi and you’re not hungry, go across the street. The indoor alcove next to the ice cream shop picks up La Pasiva’s signal. Back to my electricity issue.

I returned home and the UTE guy arrived within 20 minutes. He went to the circuit box and flipped the middle switch in the upper row to the up position, and power was restored.Here’s a photo of what I now know is the MASTER POWER SWITCH:

Oh That's the Master Switch!
Master Power Switch

There’s a moral to this story. If you peruse the various expat websites, some people are quite happy about their decision to move to Uruguay. Others dedicate pages and pages to warning you about the inefficiency of services in Uruguay, and that if your power goes out, it will take a month to get it fixed. Uruguay is like anywhere else in the world. Some people give you good service, some people give you bad. Thus far, we have been quite lucky, but I’m sure we will occasionally experience frustrating service.

Mark and I will do our best to present a realistic view of life in Uruguay. Some posts might appear to be written through the eyes of a person in love, while others will present critical views of what does not work as well as it should.

We will not present Uruguay as Utopia for every type of person, now will we use our blog to express disgruntled buyer’s remorse, like people who moved into a country that never really suited them in the first place!



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Lisa Marie Mercer

Site co-owner Lisa Marie Mercer, AKA Lisamaria. Long-time fitness pro, travel writer, nonfiction and novel author, historical guide. Follow author Lisa Marie Mercer at her Twitter @Lisamarimer, and find all her other many sites via - blogs, writer portfolios, Google+, Facebook, and more.