Having Fun with Electricity in Honduras

35 comments

Having Fun with Electricity in Honduras

There are some things you give up when staying in really cheap hotels. Comfort, convenience and service are the first to go, of course, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, safety is usually next on the list.

I’ll have a Widow Maker, Please
I guess I’m just going to have to get used to these electric shower heads but I’m not happy about it. Based on a design by Ben Franklin, the heating element is actually built into the shower head. Knowing that the only thing shielding me from certain death is a pair of wire nuts hanging just six inches above the spraying water makes me think “You know, maybe those smelly hippies have the right idea…”

Having Fun with Electricity in Honduras

The Outlet of Death
Now, if you’ve been here before you may know that I tend to give anything remotely dangerous the “of Death” suffix, but this thing really was frightening. Traveling with my buddy Rich, we’d decided to stay at a nicer hotel that had a small kitchen in the room. I plugged my Macbook into the nearest outlet and got one hell of a shock when I touched the laptop’s aluminum case. I may have shrieked like a six-year old girl at summer camp — Rich laughed so hard he nearly spilled his beer.

Panicked that my laptop might be on the fritz or that the charger was dying (imagine trying to find an Apple power supply in a small town in Honduras), I switched the plug to the second socket and tried again saying “Maybe its justzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsonofabitch!”

“Dude, I think I saw your skeleton that time. Do it again.”

After very carefully testing the setup on a different outlet, I confirmed that it was just a wiring problem with this one outlet and not my laptop. Heating up leftovers later in the Half Pint microwave was a challenge, but we got it done without further hot electrotherapy action. One cool side-effect: the plate in my head is now magnetized, so I’ve got some new bar tricks.

Having Fun with Electricity in HondurasHaving Fun with Electricity in Honduras

Paging Jackie Chan
Finding a power outlet in a budget room can be tricky. I’ve been in hotels where it was hidden under the bed or I had to choose between using the fan or charging my laptop, but I’ve never had one that was nine feet off the ground. At six foot, I’m still about a foot short — I contemplated trying some kind of jumping kung fu move but decided that really would get me electrocuted or knocked out.

The only other outlet was in the bathroom, next to the toilet. It really was the worst office ever.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Robinson November 23, 2011 at 12:30 am

I guess they were trying to save money by discouraging guests from using extra electricity when they placed the outlets so high.

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wes November 23, 2011 at 1:29 am

I suspect you’re right :)

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For 91 Days Travel Blog November 23, 2011 at 1:51 am

The electricity was similar set up in Bolivia … Mike actually got electrocuted by touching the shower head by mistake. He survived :)

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wes November 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Yikes!

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Rease November 23, 2011 at 1:54 am

I have experienced ALL of these things in Argentina, unfortunately. I had one outlet of death in my last apartment that I was scared to even walk too close to. I have a much nicer apartment now but I have some of those crazy placed outlets. I have one inside of a broom closet and one inside of a kitchen cabinet about 6 feet off the ground. Great for making toast NEXT to the plates I guess.

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wes November 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Haha. The carpenter must have been drunk ;)

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globaltravellers helena - longing to hit the road again November 23, 2011 at 3:06 am

I like the name ‘widow heater’! But that’s a rather modern version of such a device. You should see the one I had where I was staying in Xela, Guatemala and considering that the temperature dropped to between 0 and 5°C at night without any heating in the house, you really did crave those two drops of hot water per minute it produced. Basically you could chose between a fairly good supply of cold water or a few drops of hot water. Didn’t even stop to consider at that moment that I could get electrocuted…

My first widow heater was in Havana, however. Although it took me more than a week to figure out that there was any hot water to have at all. Until one day I stepped into the shower, turned on the water and got ‘burned’. What? How? Due to the hot weather, the water never really got cold so I hadn’t even thought about looking for hot water.

But what a luxury to have these killer shower heaters in cold areas!

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wes December 3, 2011 at 4:44 am

Widow heater is indeed an awesome name :)

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Dean November 23, 2011 at 6:00 am

If you do end up going with the jumping kung fu move, make sure to film it for your readers ;)

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wes December 3, 2011 at 4:44 am

What happens in Honduras stays in Honduras, Dean.

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Mikeachim November 23, 2011 at 7:14 am

Here in Northern England we neatly circumvent these dangerous issues by way of never having discovered electricity.

That said, banging rocks together for heat can leading to some pretty effing nasty accidents.

Even though you suffered greatly in the making of this post, I enjoyed it a lot. Hope you don’t mind.

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wes November 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Thanks Mike — that’s what I’m here for ;)

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Chris November 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm

The shower with the wire on top looks extremely scary, but did you use it? It is so incredible that it makes me smile….

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wes November 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Oh yeah, I use one every day. After 3 weeks in Utila with just a cold shower, I’m grateful to have one at all…

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DKR November 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

You are much braver than me, I don’t think I could have brought myself to use that shower, at least with out wrapping plastic and then duct tape around that wire.

They place the socket so high in your room so you will have to rent one of the hotel monkeys….

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wes December 3, 2011 at 4:45 am

I want a hotel monkey!

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica November 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I have been shocked by outlets so many times during my travels in Latin America. And those showers scare the Hell out of me!

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Matthew Karsten November 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

Me too. Shocked by outlets and showers. At least 7 different times. One time I plugged in a fan and the cord exploded in my hand. Burned apart into two pieces (the cord that is, not my hand). Smoke, fire, the whole shebang! If I had hair on my head, it would have stood up. :)

Prepare for even more Wes! It’s only just begun…

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wes November 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

Heh, I know you’re right. Trying not to think about it ;)

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Neha November 24, 2011 at 3:33 am

“Dude, I think I saw your skeleton that time. Do it again.”
Hahaha! Friends, right.

The Loo-office looks all kinds of crazy too, say it’s helped you be your most productive self…

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wes December 3, 2011 at 4:46 am

Well, I have to say that there were fewer interruptions at that office…

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Lily November 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

“the plate in my head” ?? Was this caused by some other “of death” contraption?

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wes November 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I might be making up that little detail. ;)

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Alaster November 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Maybe rubber soled boots and washing-up gloves are the answer!
You’ve clearly put your life on the line for this post, but it is hilarious.
The outlet above the shower, gotta wonder what was going through the electrician’s head – not much I imagine!

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Rebecca November 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Yikes, be careful!

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Jeff November 29, 2011 at 4:50 am

I call these things “suicide showers”

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April Neylan November 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Oh god! That’s scary stuff!!

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Dani | Globetrottergirls December 2, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Aah, Honduras! Thanks so much for reminding us of the oddly placed plugs near the ceiling – we’d forgotten about that! What the heck where they thinking when they put them there?? You’ll encounter many more of the plugs in odd places and widow makers throughout Central America (wait till you get to Nicaragua!), enjoy ;-)

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wes December 3, 2011 at 4:46 am

Something to look forward to! :)

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wes December 10, 2011 at 4:12 am

Nicaragua just keeps coming up over and over. I’m getting scared.

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candace December 9, 2011 at 12:38 am

ahh!! i lived in costa rica for six months when i was 16 in a house with one of those water heaters and i never realized how dangerous it was!!

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Eugene January 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

That’s really scary and funny at the same time. I despise the term “lol” and am firmly resolved never to use it but you nearly got one out of me with that post.

The thing about getting shocked is that although you would never describe it as a pleasant experience you do kind of feel more alive afterward. Maybe it’s the endorphins.

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wes January 13, 2012 at 8:23 am

Haha! I think it’s just the relief of realizing that you are still alive ;)

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Erich December 1, 2013 at 3:29 am

you get what you paid for….if staying in San Pedro try the InterContinental, if in La Ceiba the Quinta Real. Both nicer then most NYC hotels.

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Erich December 1, 2013 at 6:06 am

Those overhead shower heaters are from the USA and sold in the USA

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