Tuesday, April 1, 2008

La Luz se fue!

“la luz se fue” means the light has gone away. It’s said about one or two times a day by every person living in the Dominican Republic, it means the power is out. I think I heard that the average time of daily black outs is 12 hours, half of the day every day. Luckily both my families have inverters and battery cells that are constantly charging for the half of the day that the power actually is working. The energy/electricity situation is pretty messed up here because no one pays for it, I think this is because 20 years ago someone figured out how to snatch electricity from the power lines without the help of the electric company. Its kind of like if everyone was getting free cable, except it’s the power, and because everyone is getting it for free, it only works half the time. The good part about it is that no one really seems to mind the blackouts, a casual “The luz se fue” is all you ever really hear when it goes out, the better part is that when it comes back, no matter what town, city or barrio you are in, everyone within 2 miles cheers like we just won a championship . . . and the party starts.
Last night when the luz se fue’d we were in the middle of a game of dominoes at a house up the street. It didn’t have an inverter and so we kept playing by candlelight, flash light and the occasional cell phone light. As we were playing (while the power was still on) we heard a huge crash outside, it turned out that right in front of the house a motorcycle with two people on it hit a truck with two people in it. Half of us ran outside to see it and the other half kept playing, I guess it happens often enough that some people already knew what happened. The driver, who turned out to be the father of the girl sitting next to me at the domino game, was sitting on the side of the road with a broken leg, my host brother and his mute cousin picked him up and brought him to the truck which wasn’t really damaged too much and the second passenger, one of the sons, got away with only a broken foot. So the truck took off and went to the nearest hospital in Santiago with the father and the son. The daughter came back to the house and continued to provide domino advice to one of the volunteers. It was explained to me that this was business as usual and the corner that we were playing at is a pretty bad intersection for accidents. But for the record, if a couple of my family members were just in an accident outside my house on a motorcycle I would freak out.

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