We’re now into hour 16 of a power outage that began at 5 p.m. yesterday during a particularly bad storm with high winds. I feel as though I’m living an episode of NBC-TV’s Revolution, except I’m not being pursued by Monroe’s Militia, and I’m hoping someone can get to “The Tower” pretty soon to turn the power back on. While we’re waiting for the power to be restored – rumored to be some time this afternoon – we’re on generator power and I’m taking advantage of it to charge up all my electronics and to check email. It was a pretty long and boring night, especially since it gets dark here before 7 p.m., so I just gave into it and went to bed at 8 o’clock, hoping against hope that the power would be back on this morning. No such luck. With the hodge podge of overhead power lines here, which appear to be put up in place with spit and chewing gum, it’s a wonder there aren’t more outages.
Coffee, But No Hot Water
Fortunately, the stove is gas and although it uses electricity to spark the burner, it’s still possible to light the burner with a match, so I was able to have coffee this morning, albeit instant, which seems like a sacrilege in Guatemala. In theory, I should also have had hot water since it, too, is heated by gas. But apparently the unit that heats the water depends on a certain water pressure, which, because there is no electricity to drive the pump that maintains the pressure, the water heater won’t fire up. This is not to say that I don’t have any water at all. I do. The water is stored in a tank on the roof of the house, so gravity is keeping it flowing, but with not enough pressure for the water heater. The toilet is also a little sluggish in flushing and to make the situation worse, there is no water yet from the town and we’re unsure of exactly how much water we have in the tanks of the two houses. Through some complicated system, when the town turns on the water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the water first flows into the tank that’s on the roof of the house where I’m staying. When that tank is full, the water backflows into the tank attached to the other house to fill it. Now, won’t you appreciate it all the more when you turn on the tap and the water just seems to flow in an endless supply?
I Should Have Been Better Prepared
As a veteran of hurricanes Jeanne, Frances and Wilma, I know that I should be better prepared, especially since it’s the rainy season in Guatemala and these catastrophes occur regularly. Not only am I woefully unprepared at home, I’m even less so here. About the only smart thing I did was to bring a flashlight from home with extra batteries. Last night found me burning what few candles I had on hand and I’m not sure what I’ll do tonight if the power isn’t back on. I’ve found that something as simple as an emergency candle doesn’t seem to exist here and I may be forced into getting some of the devotional candles I’ve seen for sale in the tiendas. I hope God will forgive me if I go this route. I have also only three matches left.
Drinking water really isn’t an issue, since we don’t drink water from the tap anyway. In fact, I had Ventura, the caretaker, get me four 5 gallon bottles of agua pura yesterday. As for food, I’m sorry to say I have one can of tuna fish and a few slices of bread. I don’t even want to think of what the conditions are in the refrigerator. With the generator on, the ‘fridge is back up and running, but I think I’m going to be very leery of the contents.
I have no idea if the stores in town are open. I suspect they are. I don’t think there’s much that can stop commerce here. However, since I didn’t plan ahead, I’m a little low on cash and am quite sure that the ATM machine is down.
We Had Our Priorities Straight Anyway
When the power went out, Solina and I were just settling down to Happy Hour. I had returned not long before from a three-hour lunch with a friend and bought two bottles of wine on the way home. Maybe that was some kind of disaster planning. With nothing else to do, Solina and I watched the storm on the lake in better than 1080i high-definition TV through the wall of windows in the “great room” and drank the wine. It was a good thing that I had the foresight to get two bottles.
All I can do now is wait for the power to return. I’m also going to see if perhaps the generator has created enough power to enable me to take a quick shower and then take a walk into town.
I did get my shower but to conserve the generator just in case Solina is going to turn it off in a few minutes.