HAVANA TIMES — This past Saturday the lights went out at home, so I had to wish my husband a happy 26th birthday as he woke up in bed soaking in sweat.
The fan had gone off at 7:00 a.m., which made me think that this was due to some transformer having melted down or a car having hit a utility pole.
I was hoping that it would only take a couple hours for whatever it was to be fixed.
In any case, we left the house to buy some food to share with friends who would be coming over that night to spend some time with us.
But after four hours of being without power, the water also went off and I picked up the phone.
I learned that several areas in the Alamar neighborhood were without electricity that morning. Over in Santo Suarez they had been without electricity since the previous night.
This all made sense of the recent statements by the Spanish oil company Repsol concerning their having come up dry in their first attempt to drill a well in Cuban waters.
What also came to mind was a recent message in Mujeres magazine that read, “For energy conservation, your opinion is important – and your actions even more so.”
The word “conservation” inevitably refers to the word “shortage” and the scarcities then lead to hoarding.
I thought about candles, and hoarding candles, since I can’t afford a rechargeable lamp.
I found some less expensive candles on Arroyo Street. The saints of African religions apparently aren’t so demanding, so practitioners can buy candles at their religious stands for only three pesos in national currency (about 12 cents USD).
I got in line and joined in some light hoarding, picking up three white candles.
When I got home I tried waiting for the return of electric current by reading a book by Virgilio Piñera: Pequeñas maniobras (Minor Maneuvers), but I couldn’t concentrate.
The memories of blackouts throughout my childhood and adolescence were too close.
Memories came to mind of suffocating heat, mosquitoes (dengue-carrying ones or not), water shortages, reeking bathrooms in multifamily buildings, warm drinking water and being unable to quench one’s thirst.
Playing around making shadows on the wall isn’t enough to serve as an escape strategy when you’re 24
Twelve hours passed without the orderly flow of electrons, we prepared the food, and used up the last bottle of water.
Night came and so did our friends, while I continued to be nervous.
My worst memory of blackouts is waking up in the middle of absolute darkness and feeling trapped, unable to locate myself in space, not knowing if I was blind or dead.
At 8:30 the lights finally came back on, therefore we were able to eat and have a few drinks in peace.
Now I’m trying to stop thinking about some pending nighttime blackout, but the fact that they’ve begun to spread throughout the city daily doesn’t help much.