Sunday Snippets ~ 30/03/14 ~ It’s All About the Power

pow·er ˈpou(-ə)r


1. the ability to do something or act in a particular way, esp. as a faculty or quality.

“the power of speech”

2. the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

political or social authority or control, esp. that exercised by a government. 



1. supply (a device) with mechanical or electrical energy.

“the car is powered by a fuel-injected 3.0-liter engine”

switch a device on or off.

“the officer powered up the fighter’s radar”

2. move or travel with great speed or force.

“they powered past the dock toward the mouth of the creek” 

If you were to look up the meaning of “power” you’d find several more meanings both verbs, nouns and adjectives and relating to mathematics and physics.   For brevity’s sake I’m only including the above definitions.

Yesterday between the hours of 20:30 and 21:30 local time people around the world were asked to celebrate Earth Hour by switching off their lights to the symbolic holiday, which this year is trying to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for environmental projects. The last few days we’ve felt that we’ve done more than our fair share of saving energy.  Friday we had no electricity or water for five and a half hours.   On Saturday the electricity went out twice the first time for three hours and the second time we lost power and water for over four hours.

One of our friends called the power company yesterday and was told the reason for the power outage was that a transformer was being replaced.  During Dry Season the rivers that run the dams run short of water.  Offices and public companies have been required to turn on the air conditioning an hour after opening and to turn it off one hour before closing, and private companies have been asked to turn off the neon signs after 22:00 hours.  The government announced these energy-saving measures through the duration of the Dry Season until the end of April when the rain generally begin again and the rivers start to fill although; last year the rains were delayed a month creating an energy crisis throughout the country in May.  It stands to reason that the rivers are already quite low and the power grid cannot be consistently maintained at a high level.  When the power when out on Friday it came with a “blip”, a very high surge and then quit altogether; I’m just speculating but it seemed that a few switches were being turned off somewhere.  Some days it makes total sense when you see businesses and government offices doing things manually.  After all what’s the point of having a computerized system when you don’t have the power to run it for a good part of the time?  Until Panama increases the megawatts of power available and stabilize the system by building new infrastructure as the government is planning, sometimes the old pen and paper works better.  The lesson here is when one is living in Panama be ready to go without some of the necessities taken for granted in North America.

Former Presiden Mireya Moscoso in the purple shirt.

Former President Mireya Moscoso in the purple shirt.

Marta Linares de Martinelli speaking.

Marta Linares de Martinelli speaking.

I mentioned yesterday that there was a political rally in town on Friday evening.  The event carried over to yesterday when the official presidential candidate for the Cambio Democratico party, José Domingo Arias came to town to ​​tour the peninsula.  What I didn’t mention is that his running mate and vice presidential candidate is Marta Martinelli, the spouse of the current president.  Apparently he hasn’t been attending too many events with Mrs. Martinelli, who from my observation at the rally seems to be a lovely lady.  I’m merely commenting as a curious observer as I’m not permitted to vote but the opposition parties claim that he is distancing himself from his running mate so as not to not link himself to the “veiled re-election” of Ricardo Martinelli.  As I’ve said it’s interesting to see how politics work here, there is definitely more outreach to the people and much more enthusiasm from the supporters.  As to what goes on in the background or back rooms, I can’t really say.  I imagine it’s not that different from North American politics where deals are made for votes and appointments to various positions.  All I know is that it was much quieter after the rally headed down the highway.  And later in the day when our power returned we were very happy in the campo.

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About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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5 Responses to Sunday Snippets ~ 30/03/14 ~ It’s All About the Power

  1. shellmcc1106 says:

    Question on the power surges. Did you bring surge protectors with you? If not, have you since bought some to protect your electronics? We are discussing whether to purchase some before moving.

    • indacampo says:

      We have surge protectors on all our appliances. They cost anywhere from $25.00 to $40.00+ here and are readily available for 120V and 220V. We bought them all here.

  2. pklainer says:

    Karen, I’m struck by two things. One is the durability of the Panamanian political families. When I was in Panama in the 1960’s an Arias became president following a military coup. That family, of which I’m sure there are numerous branches, has been in politics forever. The other thing that strikes me is how much infrastructure building is needed in Panama. A couple of years ago President Martinelli announced a huge investment in infrastructure, which struck me at the time as a drop in the bucket given the needs. With such rapid growth in the country, infrastructure is likely to lag for a long time – no matter how hard they work. The worst part of electrical outages for me when I’m there is the stuff in the refrigerator or freezer. You can’t really stock up if you have to worry about losing a freezer full of food. Pam

    • indacampo says:

      The longest outage that we’ve had has been a little over 12 hours and as long as we don’t stand with the refrigerator or freezer door open our stuff has kept pretty good and we haven’t lost anything. From what I understand the plan is to import energy from other countries for now until the new dams are complete. But you are correct, as soon as one part of the infrastructure get improved there seems to be another part that need updating. And as you know progress in Panama goes at a very slow pace simply because the people don’t like their way of life disrupted and seem to accept that this is the way it always was and should be.

      I understand that the CD party left a little money behind this weekend and that there is going to be some building materials delivered for distribution a couple of streets over from us. I may have to take a walk over there later.

      • pklainer says:

        for Karen: Lucky indeed not to have lost food! I recall one night at a rental villa when we had to break out the ice cream and eat it because it was melting. Happily some of the kids were sleeping over, and they made short work of it. 🙂

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