LB4's Jaunt Through Spain - 2014 travel blog


You may have noticed that there are no photos (as of yet) in this or my last two journal entries. This was not intentional. There is a story behind that. Or more accurately, a series of mishaps.

Most of the photos I've been taking have been with my Sony camera, which can best be described as a high-end point and shoot. It's not to the level of an SLR, but it's quite a few notches above even the best cell phone cameras (which have, in the last few years, become generally pretty good for most purposes). I also have a camera on my iPhone, but I don't generally use it unless I'm taking a picture to immediately upload to Facebook. If I'm taking photos that I intend to look at later in life, I use the Sony camera.

The way I get those photos from the Sony camera into my trip journal is to connect either the camera or the memory card to Cathy's Chromebook. From the Chromebook, I can upload them to the website hosting my travel journal.

The problem is, to do that you need two things: a decent wi-fi connection, and a charged Chromebook. Right now I have neither. The wi-fi connection at our place in Zaragosa is slow, and the Chromebook has almost no power left.

"Well, why don't you charge it?" you may ask. This is where the series of mishaps begins.

First of all, the Chrombook has a three-pin charging system. So we need a converter that converts a three-pin U.S. plug to a two-pin European plug. We didn't think to bring one of these. We were dumb.

As for the two-prong converters, we began this trip with two two-prong converters. We thought this would be enough to charge our stuff. This was a little bit optimistic. Three chargers would have been the right amount. We have both of our phones to charge, my iPad, my camera, and Cathy's Google Nexus. We also have a portable charger in case one of our phone batteries dies mid-day, but that too needs to charged.

So we found a store in Barcelona that sold two-prong converters. We were now up to three.

Unfortunately, as we were packing up in Barcelona, we discovered what a cheap piece of shit the converter we bought had been. While trying to unplug it, the plastic covering came off, leaving just the metal pins in the socket. Obviously it wouldn't have been a good idea to try to just pull it out, since it's a live connection. (I should correct that: It was obvious to me. It was obvious to Cathy. It was not obvious to some other people)

So I called the front desk. Now one thing I have noticed when dealing with people in customer service jobs is that the rarely actually listen to anything you have to tell them. They are just trying to listen for key buzzwords to let them know what they think the request is about, as quickly as possible, so they can go back to playing Angry Birds, texting, or whatever it is they're doing. This is even more true when they are dealing with someone who doesn't know their language. Listen for the buzzwords and move on. When I explained the situation to the woman at the front desk, the buzzwords she picked up on were "converter" and "electricity". In her mind, that's all she needed to know. She told me she would send someone up, and then she hung up.

Three minutes later, a young man in a suit, obviously not a maintenance person, showed up at our door, carrying with him a replacement converter. The woman I spoke to obviously didn't understand what the problem was, as evidenced by the fact that she thought I was just asking for a converter and so she sent up a flunkie. So I explained to the young man that I didn't need a new converter, that what happened was that the converter broke off inside the socket, and that someone needed to take it out because it was a dangerous condition. But of course, those words cannot be spoken in three seconds or less, so as soon as the young man heard the word "broken" he made a beeline to the socket. And before I could get out the words "Don't touch it", he of course, reached out to try to pull the broken pins from the socket, and got a nasty shock.

"I call the electrician", he said. Good idea.

The electrician was supposed to come at noon. We'd be long gone by then, but it didn't really matter to us.

Until...

As we left the room, we passed the maid on the way to elevator. Figuring that the scenario was likely to repeat itself with the maid, and perhaps with more disastrous results, I decided that I'd better personally warn the maid about the problem. So I motioned for her to follow me back to the room.

This time I took a different approach. As I led the maid to the affected socket, I made sure I stayed in front of her.

Once we reached the socket, I started attempting to let her know about the broken pins, and not to touch it. But she didn't understand what I was saying, as evidenced by the fact that she reached out, as the young man had done, to try to pull the pins out of the socket. But because I was in front of her, I was able to block her and prevent her from doing so, but she still didn't understand why. I had packed away our Spanish-English dictionary, so I couldn't look up the words for "Do not touch! Dangerous".

So I resorted to the only thing I could think of, which was imitating the way someone getting an electrical shock had been portrayed in the hundreds of cartoons I'd seen over the years. I pretended to touch the pin, and then pretended to violently convulse while screaming, "ahhhhhhhhhhh!".

"Ohhhhhhhh!", she said. She got it.

So we were back down to two converters. Except, we apparently lost one because when we got to Zaragosa, we found that we only had one converter.

So, we are in rather desperate need of a three US pin to two EU pin converter, and a couple of two-pin to two-pink US to EU converters. When you see photos back on this journal, you'll know we found a place that sold them.

Now I get to writing about Zaragosa...but that will have to wait until tomorrow.



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