I would say, no a candle is not necessary here in San Pedro, the electricity is amazingly stable on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. But it would be NICE.
I have Internet access, but no electricity right now, but then again, it is 3:08 am, and the majority of people in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala are sleeping. I looked around from my balcony in the Hotel Antonio, it looks as though the majority of San Pedro has no lights, but in the distance I can see we are alone, the other Pueblos have lights.
If you see this in front of your Hotel, be aware, but also be grateful.
(Look at the small Arabic sign to the right above this generator, this photo was taken in Iraq. Most of Iraq homes had air conditioning inside the major cities, and Saddam would shut off the electricity to punish a city. This strained the wire, and caused many problem, but gas cost 10 cents a gallon, so an easy work around for the locals, they all had generators.)
San Pedro - Lights OffThe electricity went off about 8:00 pm last night in San Pedro, so right now we have been without electricity for five hours, not a big deal.
My present computer has about 4 hours of battery life, I have about two hours left, and I have a USB wireless modem that connects to the cell phone towers. Generally, on the planet, the cell phone almost never stop working, the cell phone towers have big generators that keep them working.
What is more important to people, cell phones or electricity, for sure cell phones.
I have been on Lago Atitlan for approximately two months, and I not purchased a candle. This is a good sign, I just went out and nabbed the candle the Hotel had sitting on the steps, if any drinkers return home, I hope they have a flashlight on their cell phone.
Generally, I have two super small flashlights with me at all time.
1. One on my key chain.
2. My LG cell phone has a light, which is simple and convenient, one button pushing, not any thinking at all.
There are three major reasons lights go out when living in these highly affordable countries.
1. The electric company shuts off the lights, because too many people are stealing electricity, this is not a problem on Lake Atitlan.
2. Someone hits a large electrical pole with a car, I suspect that is what happened, or maybe one of them big power stations has a problem.
3. The electrical wiring is so overloaded, that nothing works right. This is not a problem on Lake Atitlan.
(This tiger is a noisy little animal, and only cost around 90 USD.)
If you want to know the "tell," the sign of real electrical problems, if you enter your hotel and there is a generator the size of a car in front. Then also as you walk around the city, you see many small generators sitting out front, they are normally blue colored, sometimes red.
Note, a person should never take money from an ATM machine when the city is experiencing electric, or Internet problems.
What is the word for candle in Spanish?"Vela."
Andy Lee GrahamHotel San AntonioSan Pedro la Laguna, Lake Atitlan, GuatemalaJuly 2012
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Actually, folks do want to keep candles handy around the Lake. A couple of months ago, San Pedro went without electricity for 3.5 days, because some moron cut down a tree, and took down 1800 meters of power line running over the hills. Folks were definitely not happy.
In my late 20s I was living on Water Island at St Thomas USVI at the then named Sugar Bird Resort and I worked on the Ferry Boat from Charlotte Amalie for room and board. We didnt have black outs but we had the even more destructive brown outs at least every other month and it would wreck havoc on any electronics and destroy some air conditioners too. I think Andy did a blog post on low power and how it will destroy your black box after continual brown outs...
Kathmandu has become notorious for power cuts and the use of generators in recent years since the fall of the Kingdom. Last time I was there a few years back, every day the power was going off for several hours at a time at random hours, followed by the clatter of hundreds of generators and smell of fuel. Among other reasons, it was felt locally that Kathmandu has experienced a huge migration of people from the villages into the city since the Kingdom fell, and this is putting immense strain on the electricity system. Locals would complain that the Government was not making enough use of the hydroelectric potential of Nepals topography, to alleviate this. It was frustrating enough for me as a traveller, so it must have been far more for locals. Candles were used extensively on that trip. Tall ones, that would last me ages :D
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