Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Is This TV Turned Off?

Guess: Why is This TV off? 

A. We’re  participating in ‘No TV week’
B. We’re saving energy by watching on odd days only
C. A cockroach family has nested itself inside the TV
D. Lighting struck our house and destroyed ALL our electrical equipment

Damn damn, the answer is number D. It’s one of those things that are only supposed to happen to other peopls..until it happens to you! Bummer.

Last Friday Soleine and I are playing games by candle light because power has gone off in our home. It’s raining and there’s a thunderstorm. We’re counting the seconds between lighting and thunder, it still far away. Suddenly the house gets lit up followed immediately by the loudest sound I have ever heard. Sparks of fire are flying around in your garden. Holy cow.

Sensor box exploded after lightning struck
We’re fine, because I had switched of our modem as well as the multiplug in the TV corner. When it turns out that the power has returned to all our neighbors’ homes we’re learning the horrid truth: lightning has struck a sensor box that controls our garden lights placed on our pine tree. The box has exploded, but that’s not all! It appears that the lighting power (what voltage would that be  - I have no internet to look it up) has gone into the electricity cable connected to that sensor.  Two fuses burnt, but Michel manages to repair those. Power to the house is restored.

We’re still thinking we got away without major damage until we turn on the TV. Nothing. CD player? Nothing. DVD player? Nothing. Modem? Nothing, Telephone? Nothing… Today we got confirmation from the shops and repairmen…all our electrics  are fried! Beyond repair.  The only thing in our living room that is still working is our Christmas tree.

Lesson learned for the season, when in thunderstorm:


Merry Christmas anyway.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Keeping in Touch with the Dutch

Everywhere in the world you can find Dutch people - whether you like it or not - traveling is in our blood. In Madagascar there is a small community of Dutch people that gets together at least twice a year. On April 30 to celebrate our Queen's birthday, and on December 5 to celebrate the birthday of Sinterklaas. Who? St Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children and sailors, and the basis for Santa Claus, the mythical holiday figure in the US.

I like to think of Sinterklaas and Santa Claus as brothers. How else am going to explain my 6-year old?
Sinterklaas is always accompanied by a couple of "Zwarte Pieten', these are his helpers. They're black because they come through the chimney. It has nothing to do with race or Africa or whatsoever, but you can image the confusion by African people when they see white people dressed up as a black persons. Some people find this not P.C. but to them I see B.S, it's just a children's story...

Anyhow...last Sunday Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piet finally arrived in Madagascar. Not on his traditional white horse, but in a Malgashy zebu cart! With sunglasses. So fun!
Sinterklaas arriving on his zebu cart

Zwarte Piet, black with soot from the chimney
Dutch Kiddo's in Madagascar