This week is a really exciting one; on Sunday I moved into Turtle House. Currently I am here as a renter since the lawyers still haven’t transferred the title into my name. Later this week, my household goods will arrive from the United States. From student housing on Sunday morning to a filled house by week’s end will be a really abrupt transition!
I spent this evening dealing with the utilities at Turtle House. This afternoon I visited the Telkom Direct at Tyger Valley Mall (Parow Centre is closer to my office than to my new home). Telkom provides both a land-line telephone and ADSL internet service to the townhouse. I agreed to pay for the phone and internet bill to continue during the period between the seller’s departure and my arrival at the property. The alternative would require that I start a new line of phone service at the house. Starting new service, though, could invoke serious delays. Would I be able to bear waiting more than a month to have home internet service? No!
The phone and network service was still in the former occupant’s name, though, so I needed to visit Telkom Direct to change it to mine. I stood in line for about fifteen minutes, and then I was working with a knowledgeable clerk. We discussed the type of service currently at the house, and I decided to upgrade from 2 Mbps with a 10 GB/month cap to a 4 Mbps connection with a 20 GB/month cap. The monthly cost will be just under 700 rand (around $40). I also decided to replace the ADSL modem and wireless router since the current one had a broken antenna and worn Ethernet ports. The clerk tempted me with a free modem if only I would agree to a two year contract. Sold!
The other utility to which I’ve been giving some thought is electricity. Power in South Africa is provided by Eskom, which functions as a parastatal: something between a private company and a branch of the government [Note that the link for parastatal represents an odd type of opinion article that crops up from time to time]. They have gained the ire of many South Africans in recent years for introducing “load shedding;” scheduled (and occasionally spontaneous) blackouts in particular regions. Eskom is also renowned for its astonishing customer service, and trying to establish new service with the organization has led to some number of horror stories on the internet.
Turtle House has a feature that eliminates some of the doubt associated with transitions in ownership. In the photo at the top of this post, you should see me standing in the main hallway of the townhouse next to a fuse panel and the electric meter. Do you see the keypad on the meter? When I want to buy more power for the house, I can go online to buy some units of power, and I will receive a code in return. I type that code into the electrical box, and those units of power are added to the meter! It’s like magic.
The next comment I would make about power is that Turtle House is under-supplied with power outlets. Each of the three bedrooms contains a single power outlet with a switch to turn it on or off (including a switch on a power outlet is very common here, probably to prevent arcing as plugs are put in the socket). Where a typical American power outlet lets you plug in two different devices, the South African equivalent has room for only one. When I look in the major living area, stretching from the kitchen peninsula through the dining space to the living room space that adjoins the braai area, I see a grand total of three power outlets! Clearly living here is going to require a fair number of power strips. I acquired one today so I could connect the ADSL modem and my NAS (storage device) only to discover that the cables weren’t long enough to reach to the single phone jack in the townhouse. I’m relying on a borrowed strip to type this post. Time will tell how many wires end up trailing across my floors to deal with my electronics!
With any luck, I will see my furniture and furnishings on Thursday. Everybody cross fingers for me.