Wednesday, December 11, 2002

All this talk of snow in Yerevan is very interesting, but maybe you will find my talk of snow in Martuni a bit more interesting (just kidding).

Snow is a natural occurrence and for most people and is connected to the holiday season.

Well like in Yerevan, it snowed here in Martuni and snowed and snowed and snowed�

I could hear my neighbor�s children giggling at the sight of snow this morning. They were all excited and could not get enough of it

I guess what makes my story a bit more interesting is that the snow started a couple of days ago and the storm that it came in on also took out a bunch of high-voltage power poles that brings in power to Martuni and part of the region.

The power poles are located on a mountain top and with the snow, winds and ice, it�s very difficult for the equipment needed to get in there to replace the poles.

So 27 hours ago, the power went out. I was working at the time and my lap-top battery died at some point, so I went onto my rechargeable POWER SOURCE Multi-Volt Output with LED Display that I brought with me from America a few years ago. Well when that died, I went to bed.

So this morning I was waiting for the power to come on and it didn�t. I called the Mayor on his cell phone and he told me that we could expect the power to be restored that evening.

Well being that it was the 10th of the month, which is the day we transfer money to each of our 15 people that get aid from a few of our readers, I had to resort to getting out of my warm bed (a big thank you to the person that came up with woodstoves, because my electric heater is useless in situations like this), get dressed up really warm and go down to my car to plug in my power inverter so I could print out the transfer sheets for the aid.

So picture this, I�m sitting in the back of my Mercedes with the engine running and the heat blasting, working and charging the lap-top and then unplugging the lap-top and plugging in my bubble-jet printer (the inverter can�t take the load of both) to print out the transfer slips.

Outside the snow is just coming down like you can�t believe.

So I finished and pulled my car out of the garage, onto the dirt road and it�s just sliding around everywhere. I won�t bore you with the details of getting stuck in a snow-drift and all the neighbors coming out to push me up a hill, but will say I made it to the bank.

I find the banks front door locked. The guard tells me that they are closed until the power comes on, but lets me in and I go up stairs and drop off the transfer-slips with the bank manager, who told me that when the power comes on, she will make the transfers.

Seeing that this was not some light snow-storm and after the experience with my car getting stuck due to having summer tires, I called a friend of mine in Stepanagert who has an auto-parts store to see if he had winter-tires for my car. He told me yes, but they are going fast as there is a mad rush for winter tires today. He asks me if he should hold them for me and I tell him defiantly. I tell him that I�m going to make my way over to Stepanagert, but I�m not sure if I�ll make it since I don�t know what the road it like. He tells me to call him if I can�t make it so he can sell the tire to someone else and will get m more for me when I can make it.

I head out and man was it dangerous. The road was so icy and I experienced fish-tailing like I�ve never seen before. After a slow ride, I made it to the auto-parts store, where I purchased 4 snow tires, new sparkplugs and motor oil. The total came out to $214, which was less than I was expecting to pay. The tires are the kind that can have nails that dig into ice added (which I think I�m going to do).

I went to the tire-changing service which was so busy. They told me to come back in 2 hours, which I did and got the tires changed, which made a huge difference.

I went and paid for my internet service which for the special phone-line and internet service came out to a little over $10 this month :)

I drove back to Martuni and got in at 8 PM to find it dark. I drove to the Mayor�s house and learned that the power poles that need to be replaced will be replaced at some point and they are estimating that power will be restored in 3 days!!!

So here I am with almost all my batteries dead and were talking 3 days. I really feel sorry for the people that had their houses remodeled and were going to use electricity to heat. Those people have gone to stay with friends and relatives that have woodstoves or the lucky ones that have natural gas.

Well after a couple of cups of tea, I went home, found my contractor (who just went to bed since there was nothing else to do) and we got to work on digging out my emergency generator which was covered in snow. I parked the Mercedes as close as I could so we could light the generator as we chipped away at the ice and got it all cleaned up.

We took the battery out of the Mercedes and after a couple of minutes, the generator, which has not been run for a year, fired up.

We ran a cable to my house and there you have it, I was back in business and set for the 3 days wait.

Tomorrow, we are going to run cables to the other neighbors houses since my generator is 20 kilowatts.

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