Blackout

I am writing this using a battery powered lantern that Dad sent me in one of his many packages. I usually reserve this light for night time showering. The electricity has been out for the past hour so it's working overtime tonight. Luckily, I still have 2 hours 29 minutes left on my Mac battery and my internet runs through the cell tower. We get blackouts about five times a week during the rainy season. It's not raining right now, so I am not sure what caused it this time. To be honest, though, I really enjoy the still darkness.

Guatemala is a very noisy country. At all hours there are drivers blaring banda music out their car windows, motorcycles revving their engines, neighbors watching telenovelas at maximum volume, kids screaming, parents reprimanding, kids then crying. It all blends together to form a constant hum of background distraction. I liken it to an audio equivalent of the visual overload in Times Square.

In contrast, when the lights are out, it's peaceful. I can hear the crickets and frogs and even my elderly next door neighbor plucking away at his guitar. Right now, he is playing Mary Had a Little Lamb. Every once in a while, the lights will flicker on for a millisecond and there are shouts of joy that echo throughout the town. But, all goes dark again, and all goes silent. My neighbor will then switch to playing Cielito Lindo or Happy BIrthday. I wonder if he has a book or is just playing from memory. I can picture him behind those blank cinderblock walls, sitting in his room, on a wood chair, strumming his guitar by candle light, thinking that no one is listening. Or, maybe, he knows I am home, and is playing for me.

I now have 2:09 left on my battery. Peace Corps tells us to conserve energy when the lights go out. We never can be sure of when they are going to come back on. 



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.