Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Plug Problem


Plugs are a BIG problem in Botswana. I don’t know the history of the current situation, or even if we are alone in this dilemma, all I know is it is hair-pulling-out infuriating. For some reason there are houses in the country that have round outlets and other houses with square outlets. Because of this you get appliances with round plugs and square plugs and sometimes, just to add that little bit more joy, two little pins. To deal with the chaos, we then have adaptors. We have round to square and square to round and sometimes round to round and square to square adaptors. Invariably you come home from the shop with the wrong one.

You also can buy spare plugs and, if you ‘re handy that way and a donkey seriously living on the edge, you can actually remove the plug you don’t need and put the one you do back in its place. I don’t do that. Getting the wiring wrong, I believe, can burn your house down (don't quote me on that). Electricity is a scary, magic thing that I don’t want to mess with; I don’t even like changing light bulbs. I’m a crazy person when my husband climbs up on a chair and starts fiddling with a faulty socket- even when the mains switch is down- I don’t trust it. There could be hidden, evil electrons hiding in the wires waiting to shock my husband, shooting him many metres into the air to let him fall dead from a heart attack while they giggle their little negatively charged heads off. No, I don’t like messing with electricity.

To live in Botswana every household has a ‘ plug box’. In that box is every conceivable combination of plugs and adaptors. The plug box needs to be pulled out whenever a new appliance is bought or you shift house which I recently did. You can only imagine the craziness when you have finally got everything plugged in after trying to match adaptors with plugs and then with outlets, then only to find that you must shift from a house with round outlets to one with square outlets. Fun times I can assure you.

A recent development that is adding more excitement to the mix is the shoddy adaptors that have now flooded the Botswana market. We all need adaptors, every house has them. Now imagine the fun when they melt or , even better, explode. I’m now quick to identify a melting shoddy adaptor- the smell is a bit like a burning rat’s tail. The first time, you’ll look outside wondering what the neighbours are up to, until you see the smoke and realise it is all about you.

There is nothing that can be done now, of course. The government can’t give a directorate that all houses must be square because the people in round houses would be in a serious and costly problem. So we struggle along.

9 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Would you recommend a visit to Botwana? It looks very arid from the pictures I've seen.

Lauri said...

YES!! Botswana is a beautiful country. It can be dry at certain times of the year, but right now for example we are in the middle of the rainy season (Oct-April) and everything is green and lovely.

We have wonderful wild places such as Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta which are among the handful of places left where the animals of Africa can be found in their pristine natural environment. All the big five animals can be found as well as many more. We also have a rich cultural history. The country is clean and fairly safe in terms of crime as compared to other countries in the region. We have first class hotels as well. Also the Pula exchange rate means that most people can travel here quite cheaply.

(Oops this is becoming a tourism advert-sorry- but it really is a lovely place.)

Vic said...

I wonder how you know what a burning rat's tail smells like. We had a problem when we were in Brasil. All the appliances we brought over from the UK ran on 220v which was fine when we were in Brasilia, but we moved to Sao Paulo after a few months and everything runs on 110v there. It drives you up the wall trying to figure out if the socket you're using is the right voltage and whether it'll blow up your hairdryer.

Lauri said...

Vic, you don't even want to know about the burning rat's tail I can assure you. Of course different voltages are far worse if you make a mistake the appliance is completely buggered.

Selma said...

I had no idea about the plugs. That must be a nightmare. And here I was complaining about the lack of power points in the living room when I don't know how good I have it with the same shaped plugs everywhere I go.
This is a funny story but at times it must be downright dangerous.

groovyoldlady said...

The older houses here have non polarized outlets - often only one outlet for the entire room. The temptation, if one is renting or is too cheap to employ an electrician, is to buy polarized adaptors and extension cords. But I imagine it's still nowhere as hairy as what you deal with.

*ZAP*

My word verification is "fluterts" which is what your heart does when evil electrons are at work.

Lauri said...

That's it! Fluterts, best beware. Curious how this word verification seems to know what we're talking about....hmmmm.....

Crooked Miles said...

The square, fused plug is bequeathed by Britain, the former colonial power. The 3 round pin type is both the current South African and former British standard. It took Britain a long time to transition from round to square; it's presumably the proximity of S Africa that means it is taking longer in Botswana.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Crooked Miles- Thanks for that clarification and for stopping by.