4:30pm. I was taking a nap and the sound of the fridge turning off woke me up. I thought “Great! With the pile of work I have on, subjects of my course to cover, and they have to cut the electricity now.” I decided to stay in bed and chat with my friends until it come back.
6:30pm. I was wonder how long it was going to be this time to know if I had to forget about work for the rest of the day. So I opened twitter, and this is when I found out this time was special. I tried to reach my family (who live on a island) by phone but I couldn’t.
10:30pm. My phone was dead but I was sort of satisfied because I could help a friend that is out of the country to contact with her mom and sent messages to my family saying that I was fine. Then all I could do was rest and save my powerbank, which was half charged, for real emergencies.
10:30am. I started worrying about the food in my fridge. It was time to decide what to to do about it, and for that I needed to check The News. As soon as I turned on my phone with the powerbank, I received a call from an unkown number. It was a superwoman that I know and she said “Mija we are going to pick you up. You stay with us, ok?”
From now in this story I’m gonna call them “auntie” and “sister” because they are the aunt and sister of one of my best friend. Even though he had left the country they always kept inviting me to eat with them time to time. The telephone companies of their phones were out of service. They borrowed a phone with almost no battery left, and if I wouldn’t have turned on my phone just in time they would waste that charge in vain, and my story would be way sader. So this was the first miracle.
2:00pm. They hadn’t talk to anybody in the island yet, so we reached them by my phone and they got bad news. Two kids close to them had an accident that morning. It made everything worse as they couldn’t know how bad it was for hours. But later that night we contacted them again and we knew they were hurt but safe.
4:30pm. First 24h without electricity. I really thought that I was going to spend the day with them, and I would be at home by this time. We checked twitter again with an old nokia that I have. Its showed three twits at a time. Hospital colapsing, people whose lives hanged on a machine were either dead or scared to death, Doctors busy bumping air manually to the lungs of babies that should have been in incubators; whilist politics were blaming each other (as always). There was nothing certain about what was happening, why we didn’t have electricity, and how long it was going to take to recover it.
11:30pm. We went to bed after planing how to save the food we had stored in our frezzers because if something is a sin in Venezuela is throwing damaged food away in front of so many people starving. You have to either save it or give it away before it get ruined.
8:30am. All we are from the same island, so they use to bring with them a lot of fish because here, in the mainland, you cannot find the same variety and quality of fish. They have food for two for a month or so. We were cooking all of it and using all the techniques we knew to conserve it when I saw a light coming from the ceiling and then we heard the fridge motor starting to run.
10:00am. We conected the phones, ate breakfast, saved the rest of the food, and went out to buy water. When we arrived to stablishment, the man said that the electricity was just cut again, so we could pay only in cash. As cash is really scarce here, we didn’t buy it and save the little cash we had for something more critical because we did have water for one day more.
3:00pm. After lunch we retake our initial plan for that day. We went searching for ice, as the same as every single person in the city were doing too. We asked here and there until a woman told us “I think there is ice two blocks down this street.” Indeed the woman was right but there was line to get it with people even from other cities. We heard that someone said that the ones paying with cash didn’t have to make the line. We looked at each other and have the same thought. This is that critical case.
4:30pm. 48hours of the blackout with just 1hour and a half of break. We got the ice and had to split up because I had my own food to save. As I use to store food just for me for 15 days maximum, It wasn’t a big deal for me. I did a big soup with all portions of chicken, meat and cooked grains that had in my freezer; and most of my vegetables.
6:30pm. I ate and went out to give away the rest, and I didn’t have to go so far. I found an old lady from my building that hadn’t eaten hot food in two days because her kitchen was electric. She was in her way for a “sharing” that my neighbours had set up for other people in the same conditions (I didn’t know about it because I wasn’t there). I gave it to her and she told me she was so happy that she wasn’t going empty handy now.
9:00pm. I went to bed thinking about Venezuelans. While ones make themselves feel better under the saying “Mientras unos lloran, otros venden pañuelos” because they believe that overpricing ice, water, gas, or selling 10minutes of a phone charge for $5 makes them smarter; others are all willing to help and give away as much as they have during the worst condition. Like that lady that could stay in her floor (4th) and eat all of the food I gave her, which would be reasonable considereing her legs difficulties. But instead she was excited for going uptairs to the 12th floor to share it.
9:00am. I made “Empanadas de yuca” for breakfast, and went to share with my neighbours from the same floor and saved some for auntie and sister.
10:30am. I always have my front door closed. But I was returning from my neighbour’s and just wanted grab my phone and contact my balckout partners to comeback with them, but our plan didn’t cover this part. We forgot their phone lines were dead. That only mine was working. I kept trying walking in circles nearby the door when I saw by edge of my left eye someone going down stairs in the hallway outside that walked like sister. Then I cameback and saw her wondering there and I shout her name. As I am the one that use to visit them, she wasn’t sure which was my apartment in a bulding of 88. This was the second miracle.
4:30pm. 72 hours without electricity with a break that then seemed to had last just 5minutes. We went searching for more ice for the food they could saved and oil for the car. There were not ice anywhere and lines for oil were of hundreds of cars. We made the line in a station service far from us, but it was worth the travel because it have way fewer cars.
6:30pm. Sister had loved my “Empanadas de yuca,” so she ask me to prepare more for dinner and we shared with their neighbours.
We were in bed and talked for hours. For our luck, auntie is one of the funniest people that I’ve ever known. So sister and I didn’t lack entertainment. She amused us with crazy stories of her and her friends in college until we fell asleep.
1:00am. The light of the bulb above me burnt my eyes although I had them closed. I was dizzy, so I crawled not fully awake yet to the outlet to conect my powerbank. Someone yelled “Llegó la luz” and one by one windows started to bright. I would say there were 15 windows shining when everything went black again. It only lasted 10 minutes.
1:42am. We were still awake, but we couldn’t even talk. We all were just too mad, frustrated, worried, and emotionally exahusted to sleep. I was desparate to recall all the coincidences that kept my head above the water, and I said aloud “Tomorrow with the first light of the sun, I gonna include in my daily writing all the miracles that we experienced so far.” Believe it or not, as soon as I finished that line, the light came back to the room. I have auntie and sister as witnesses. It was as if GOD have said “Finally you have a good idea, go ahead now”.
Apart from the two that I mentioned, there were other little things that were key for us to solve problems. For example,
My phone battery is damaged, so it use to turn off when I am use it at its 80% of charge. But one time that we were out of the apartment and it was at its 30% we received a call that lead us to recharge water. Also, it let us to make a call at its 20% to know about the children that had had the accident.
Another miracle was that we had the visit of an old neighbour that didn’t live in the block anymore, and went there to check on us. It happens to be that he knew the place to recharge oil without a long line and took us there.
Also there was the fact that we had exactly the cash enough to buy two bags of ice and a minute later there they said they ran out of it.
In my area we currently have more than 48 hours of continuous service of electricity. However, water, and The Internet and other ways of telecomunications are not “normal” (I mean, “here-normal” because in other countries our “normal” is chaotic).
There are others cities still in the darkness and there are rumors that we are not done yet, so now people is crazy buying all the canned food they can and making ice in their houses. In some places there are stores looting. But in the most critical places people is getting water from contaminated rivers.