Gunter is another big Boer who visits regularly to go fishing. He is also an electrical engineer.
At the moment I have an electricity circuit spreading out like a spider’s web from a fuze box fitted behind what will be the bar, the kitchen/toilet block with no real circuits at all (I have an extension cable coming in through the window to power the TV, fridge and computer) and a shop also fed off an extension cable. Considering that the lappa has a thatched roof, twisted electrical cables and overloaded extension sockets with no earth protection are an uncomfortable mix. If I switch the toaster on, the lights go out. Everything is still temporary. I needed to make it permanent, but safe.
Since the contractor paid to do all this and everything else had gone bust, Marcia and I were left with no choice but to bring someone else in to finish the job. Marcia arranged an electrician and he now holds the record for the fastest time between turning up on site and getting sacked. He lasted less than ten minutes. I was trying to explain to him what I wanted. I want a bloody great distribution board here, I told him. He said I did not need it. I want a three position heavy duty switch here so that I can connect the generator to it. He said I did not need one. I want fuse boxes fitted to the kitchen and the canteen. He rolled his eyes, said something in Portuguese to his mate I did not catch and they both laughed.
Marcia has expressly forbidden me from punching anyone anymore, especially locals, so I walked stiffly back to my room, poured myself a slug of scotch and lit a cigarette. Thus calmed, I returned, grabbed his tool bag and threw it back in his car. ‘Podes ir embora’ I told them. They appeared confused and seemingly unable to understand basic Portuguese. ‘Fuck Off!’ I told them. They’d seen enough American films to understand that much English.
Unlike most English contractors working abroad I have met, Gunter’s only ambition is to earn as much as he needs in order to pay for what he really wants to do, with his family back home. Not for him the distraction of bars, discos and whorehouses.
‘I’ll pay cash,’ I finished as I closed my pitch to Gunter. I needed a professional and he was standing in front of me, all ten feet of him.
Three days later he was back and fitted the humungous switch I wanted.
‘Let me know when you want the permanent feed cut off so you can connect,’ I told him.
‘No need,’ he replied.
Now this I had to see.
The photograph below shows a true professional making a temporary live connection.
|Look closely at the fingertips of his right hand.|
He has just wrapped them up with insulating tape so he can work on live cables!
That isn't my head he has in an armlock, btw, that is his knee.