Pile #2 has to do with the big decision between
1) connecting to the grid by going through the established process with the CFE
2) installing a fully autonomous solar-powered system.
This decision has been on my mind for weeks and because option 1) could take up to two months it is becoming time to pick a side.
I have talked with many people, gotten quite a bit of information. I think I have a fairly good view of the financial and practical sides of both. And then, the social side, too.
Yesterday I reached out to a friend who knows me well and also knows how to listen, ask questions, and then really hear the answer to these questions. Talking with her got me 99% sure that I am going to go with the solar option, and we got there by weighing the social aspect of the situation.
Financially, they are comparable. Practically, they both have their pluses and minuses. But socially... oh boy.
The day before, while on the phone with a gentleman who could be my "CFE ambassador," and take care of the paperwork and installation, I tell him that I am concerned about being the only person with access to the grid on the small plot of land. I tell him that I want to talk about how to bring it to the whole neighborhood and would like him to advise me on how to do this.
He seems surprised. And then he starts talking about watermelons, which gets me surprised.
He says, as patiently as he can given how weird my idea sounds to him: "Listen Laura. If I go to the store and I buy a watermelon, I don't invite all my neighbors to eat it, do I?"
I see his point and I also see that if a kid walked by as I was eating my watermelon and he looked like he might like a slice, I would for sure offer him one.
That conversation stuck in my mind and I asked him if he could ask the CFE for their blessing on two projects: one for my house only and one for lets' say... 3 or 4 casitas. He quietly said we could.
The next morning, yesterday, I had awakened feeling angsty. The whole watermelon thing was not sitting well with me. OF COURSE, I want to share my watermelon! Of course. But then... how do I do that?
Visions of explaining their options to some of my neighbors (not all of them warm and fuzzy, remember?) had me stressed. One thing I have learned living here and especially in the last two months of building here is that there is a whole lot more than meets the eye when it comes to relationships in this country. Yes for sure, there are a whole lot of smiles and friendliness and warmth. And joy. And also, there is something else, something which I may never understand all the way, something that has to do with a bit of a propensity for gossip and what I would call "unspokens." It is my belief that at this point, I am not equipped to deal with the task of bringing electricity to this piece of land, then sharing it. It is my belief that I could make a huge mess of it and end up in a very uncomfortable situation.
This is a strange thing for me to contemplate because, by nature, this is my thing. In the US, I can organize events, people, life-bettering stuff with my eyes closed. And have fun doing it. Here, I don't think I can.
Also, I am not interested in falling into the trap of thinking that I am so darn special that I can accomplish something that they have been trying to do for a while now: basically, unite the neighborhood. I can follow, I can support but I will try with all my might to not take lead in any of it.
I know that if I bring a transformer to my yard, it will be hours before someone wants to hook up to it, then someone else, then someone else. I had brought that possibility to the gentleman on the phone and he had assured me that this would not work and that my transformer would be too small for that. In other words: no watermelon sharing.
My friend hears me on the phone and she knows me. She hears my stress at the idea of saying no to sharing my watermelon. She hears my stress about the idea of stepping more deeply into a position that is too much for me. For now.
Whew. Combine that with the suspicion that having my own private transformer would make me very much last on the list of who the CFE would help in case of an outage, I am pretty sure we are going solar.
I am not buying a watermelon.
Learning curves and much gratitude for friends who can hear us and know us and bring us back to us.
And looking forward to partnering with the sun, too.