11.13.2009

The Night the Lights Went Out in Quito

What happens in Ecuador when you have a very dry rainy season?  You lose power, of course. 
As of last Thursday, the government has issued rolling blackouts across the country.  Due to the severe lack of rain in the past months (according the media, it is the worst drought in 40 years), the water levels at the hydroelectric power station are very low.  The station apparently provides 40% of the nation's electricity and currently only 2 of the 10 turbines are operating.  We're able to log into the electric company's website to see the schedule of when power will be cut off in our area.  I have been presently surprised that 1) the schedule is continuously updated and 2) the schedule is accurate.  Everyday the power is cut from 4-6 hours at a time.  As horrible of an experience this sounds like, we are one of the lucky ones.  Our apartment building has a generator that powers the entire building.  So in reality, we lose power for approximately 3 minutes per day...between the cut off and when our generator kicks on and vice versa.  We still have lights, hot water, cable, internet, etc.  As I write this, our power is off.  (And by the way, the sound of dozens of generators running throughout the streets around us reminds me of post Hurricane Andrew days.)  We have friends that aren't quite as lucky.  Their building generators only operate the essentials...the elevator and the garage door openers.  Yikes!  I'm quite thankful that we're not in their shoes.

As far as I know, there really is no end in site.  We still haven't had any rain so I can only assume that we can expect this for weeks (hopefully, not months) to come.  Until then we will deal with our brief power outages and flashing 12:00 clocks.  A friend of ours had the following Facebook status the other day, it nicely sums up the situation: "Hope that we get enough rain for A to be able to cook a Turkey on Thanksgiving. You wouldn't think the two would be related, but apparently that is the case."  :)

Sorry, no pictures with this one.

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