Friday, 5 January 2007

Understanding Argentina – The Electricity

I’m not quite sure how the electricity works in Argentina, and I don’t think anyone else is either. It all seems totally arbitrary. There are at least three different types of socket for your plugs, so arriving with an adaptor to suit Argentina isn’t necessarily going to work. Some sockets have been adapted to work for all types:- the round 2-pin, the flat v-shape, and the 3 pointed star, but most haven’t. This means that Argentinean houses are full of adaptors. Not only my double whammy of English plug into travel adaptor into Argentinean multi-adaptor (it doesn’t work any other way but this combination, I don’t know why), but also for local electrical items. Sockets seem to have been places in houses by a tall drunk wearing a blindfold and carrying a pin. They appear everywhere – above ovens, out of reach up by the high ceiling, in bathrooms, under toilet seats, you name it, and there will be a socket. Except where you need one, which leads to cables travelling via a chain of adaptors to bedrooms without sockets, and amazing tangles of wires leading to multi-adaptors.

These things are amazing to behold – space for anything up to eight plugs at once, but only only in the correct combination, some with two holes, others three, some round, some square, some flat. It’s like the coordination puzzle for kids that you have to hammer the shaped blocks into the corresponding holes. A hammer would be handy to help the plugs go in sometimes too. They don’t all seem to be of the same size, never mind shape. Popeye on spinach wouldn’t be able to force some in, while others hang limply halfway out like they’re tired of working and just about to have a siesta.

Being Latin plugs, you might also be able to accuse them of acting a tad sensitively. Any small touch of a plug, any minute movement of a cable, can lead to a huge spark that momentarily lights up the house better than last night’s lightning. Sometimes it even happens without any touch at all, which fits in with the analogy perfectly. This can lead to you losing all kinds of work on computers, but sadly not this piece.

The Christmas tree lights flash on and off too, but not at regular intervals. Sometimes they’re on for an hour, sometimes off for half, and sometimes half of them are completely off while the other half flash merrily. I haven’t dared to go near them to investigate. That’s asking for trouble. And besides, I can’t find the plug. It’s lost amongst many in a scrum on the bathroom floor.

1 comment:

Santiago said...

In fact, there is a reason for that kind of complex behaviour: Simply put, argentinians enjoy buying electric devices all around the world. They import things from many places too: Argentinian electric industry is weak, so we buy things elsewhere.

It´s very typical also to have multi-norm video devices, to have different kind of keyboards (mainly spanish and english versions).

The fun part about this is: We laugh a lot when americans plug their 110V devices in our 220V plugs, without asking first about it. Bye-Bye, iPod :D