Dengue en Cuba
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Dengue en Cuba

Give Me Light

June 9, 2012

Daisy Valera

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


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


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.

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