A shocking tale of electricity in rural Mallorca

Living without electricity for eight months was not part of the grand plan for our move to live in Mallorca. Although the notion of candlelit evenings had been a romantic one when we’d first bought the finca and during our subsequent holidays here, it didn’t take long for the reality check to arrive once we’d actually moved in.

How was I going to style my hair without a hairdryer? How would we manage to do our laundry and ironing? And, as someone who’d given up a good career to become a freelance writer, how was I going to do that seriously when I had no means of charging the battery on my laptop? Even the old typewriter I’d had before I bought a computer was an electric one and, if you saw my handwriting, you’d know why writing with a pen and paper wasn’t really an option.

To be strictly accurate, we weren’t entirely without electricity. We had one small solar panel mounted on the roof and an old battery which, on a good sunny day, provided us with a 12-volt power system. It was just enough to give us about two hours of lighting daily – as long as we had only one light on at a time and continued to use what were probably the world’s first low-energy lightbulbs. Trust me, it was brighter by candlelight.

In preparation for the installation of solar power (which would take a lot longer than we thought), we decided to get the light switches and the few existing sockets in the house checked out for safety, and enlisted the services of Señor Gomilla – a local electrician who’d only just returned to work after open-heart surgery and whose angry-looking scar was visible through the jungle of grey hair exposed by his unbuttoned shirt.

He was not too impressed with what lurked within our walls. I think it was something to do with the electric shock he got while probing beneath the yellowing old plastic switchplates, and the tangle of rather charred wires. Luckily it was only a 12-volt system . . .

And we weren’t too impressed when we received the bill for his services. He clearly charged extra for electric shocks sustained  . . .

Jan Edwards ©2012

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