Friday, April 20, 2007

2 February: Eine Grosse Katastrophe

Our departure for Africa is less than 48 hours away, and we are not even close to being packed! I’ve revised our packing list a million times, so at least I know what I’m bringing, practically down to my last pair of socks.

As if last-minute packing weren’t enough to worry about, our hot water heater decided that this would be a fine time to break down. DH got up this morning and had no hot water for his shower. We have radiators, so this also meant we had no heat. I had to go next door to our landlady and she called a repairman right away. She asked me if it was too cold in our house and if I wanted to wait at their house but I declined – too much to do! The repairman showed up promptly and set about diagnosing the problem. He had to go get a new part and then came back to finish the job. By mid-afternoon he was done and the place was getting cozy again. I suppose we are really lucky it happened before we left; otherwise it may have gone unnoticed and our pipes might have frozen!

Later this afternoon I was busying myself getting all of our camera equipment together. I found a battery in a desk drawer, still in its packaging, and wondered which camera it was for. It looked to be about the same size and shape as the batteries for my Canon SLR. Without giving it much thought, I slipped the battery into the camera. I instantly regretted this momentary lapse in sanity. I tried to get the battery out again; it was stuck. I had to use the blade on DH’s mini Leatherman to pry it out. The battery was hot to the touch and the battery compartment gave off an acrid burning odor. I had this horrible sinking feeling and I thought, “No, no, no, no, no….I did not just fry my camera.” I put the other (correct) battery back in and switched the camera on. No dice. I waited a few minutes and tried it again. Nope. I got on the internet, found the Canon customer service hotline, and talked to an extremely nice man who sounded like he could be someone’s eccentric uncle. He said to put the camera in a cool, dark place for a couple of hours. Other than that, he said I could send the camera to Canon and they could tell me how much it would cost to fix it. I said I was leaving for Africa in two days. He said, “Oh. I’m sorry.” He suggested that I might be able to get a good deal on the previous model of the Canon Rebel digital SLR because a new one has just come out. I thanked him for his help and hung up.

After getting over the fact that I had just ruined my beloved camera less than two days before perhaps the most important photographic opportunity of my life, I considered my options. For a fleeting moment I thought about bringing our old Canon film SLR, which should be able to use the same lenses as our digital camera. But then I thought about how many dozens of rolls of film I would have to buy, and how much it would cost to get all that film developed, and I realized that it would be about as much as a new digital camera. DH called a short while later and, not being very good at keeping secrets, I told him what happened. He actually responded quite calmly (winning major husband brownie points) and, after thinking about it for a minute, said, “Well, we’ll just have to go out tomorrow and buy a new camera.”

Postscript: So that’s what we did. We dropped off our dog and cat at the Tierhotel on Saturday morning and then, when we should have been packing, we went downtown, shopping at MediaMarkt, Saturn, and a small camera shop. We ended up buying the newest Canon EOS digital Rebel XT, which is called the 400D here, at the camera shop, because it was not much more expensive than the model that we already had. We figured we might as well upgrade to the latest technology. Still, that was about 800 dollars we were not planning on spending. The guy waiting on us was rather shocked to make such a big sale in a matter of about three minutes. He asked if I needed anything else for the camera and was surprised when I said no, but then DH told him that our other camera was kaputt and I added that we’re leaving for Africa tomorrow. We also bought an extra memory card, so I now have enough memory for about 2,000 photos on the SLR and another 1,000 photos on our point-and-shoot Canon. Hopefully that will be enough! We spent the rest of Saturday evening packing. I didn’t go to bed until after midnight, but I was happy, because my bag weighed 30.4 pounds!

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