By Danielle Probst, 2007
El Museo del Relampego (The Museum of Lightning) is well-known because of its founders, the Amargosa Sisters. Twins, Esme and Esperanza (Esme being the eldest by four minutes) were natural empaths and sensates who used their abilities to study electrical based phenomena. All the more remarkable because the Amargosas were blind from birth, never physically seeing the subject of their most intense inquiry; yet their work in conductivity is seminal in the field of electropsychic alchemical magnetics.
Esme was the widow of Karsten Schinkel, the Graf von Heldensmarck who bought up much of the property around Batan City in the 1920’s during the Water Speculation Crisis. With the untimely death of the Graf von Heldensmarck in a 1936 plane crash, Esme took up residence in the Casa los Gardenias, which later became the library building of the Museo complex.
In 1937, Esperanza completed her education at the Sorbonne in Paris, one of the few women at the time to matriculate with an advanced sciences degree in electrical engineering. A chance meeting with the healer and psychic reader Edgar Cayce in New York in 1932 had inspired Esme to re-open the experimentation that she and Esperanza had practiced between them as young girls. Their powers of telekinesis were well documented; they often frustrated teachers and their parents with their “mischief”.
When Esperanza returned home to Batan City in the early 1940’s she discovered Esme had honed her ability to generate sparks from her hands. The sisters excitedly began their work with lightning, setting up conducive rods in a perimeter along their property (where it runs parallel to the A-12). By the late 1940’s over 300 hectares of land had been converted into a lightning farm. Power was stored in small turbines designed by Esperanza and are still in working order today. Ill-fated attempts to harness the energy into an organic alchemical battery were met with derision from the scientific community driving their work into the fringes of electrical science and physics. The horrors of World War Two proved a further marginalization for the Amargosas when interest in atomic power was at its peak. Extreme pacifists and vegetarians, the sisters partially withdrew from their scientific endeavours and focused on other, less controversial pursuits.
In 1948, after the establishment of the Museo, Esperanza married her long-time lover, big band leader Paolo “El Gordo” Jimenez, but divorced him in 1953 when he became involved with a much younger woman who bore him a son. Esme supplemented their research by writing music (she was an accomplished pianist and cellist) and Esperanza was a popular singer with her husband’s swing era band.
Esme died in 1968 of pneumonia after spending an afternoon in a thunder storm. Esperanza moved back to Batan City and handed over the day to day operations of the Museo to Ruben Diego in 1969. She died peacefully in her sleep in her suite of rooms at the Hotel Roma in 1976 at the age of 72 just as new research was being published about the Amargosa Sister’s techniques. The Museo is run by a non-profit educational consortium administered by the Shiloh Energy conglomerate which also sponsors an extensive Sciences in the Schools program for youth ages 8-14. The Amargosa Medal is awarded every 4 years to a promising individual who overcomes their physical limitations in the pursuit of science. The Medal also includes a cash award in excess of 130K euros. The 2006 recipient was deaf-mute Nestor Umladjewe from the University of Kenya.
The museo holds the continent’s largest collection of lightning ephemera including photographs, audio and video recordings, eye-witness accounts and survivor tales. It is open to the public throughout the rainy season but is open only by appointment to scholars the rest of the year.
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- Paolo “El Gordo” Jimenez
- Amargosa Sisters
- Hotel Roma