4 a.m. in Palo Verde

BANG!! BANG-BANG!!! I was convinced it was a coup d’état. BAAANG! – LOUD. As the fog of sleep cleared, I slowly grasped it was no such thing – my technological condition had just regressed by about three centuries.

It’s not that I didn’t hear the explosions. I heard them, in that weird, half-conscious way you hear loud things when you’re still asleep. But what really jolted me awake was Nancy, banging down my door.

¡Mariviiiiiiiii!!! Bang! Bang! Bang! ¡¿Qué está pasando?! Bang! BANG! What is that?! What made that enormous racket? Bang! Bang!

It’s 3:45 a.m.

Door open. She’s in now, as I am putting my shoes on. A lit candle in one hand, the other one waving, as if saying “Good Lord! The end of the world is upon us!”

¡Mujer ¡Te vas a quemar! ¡Busca un platillo!

The look on her face…

What’s going on?! My second line of trembling speech.

Don’t you hear it?! All of those explosions? People are screaming from balconies there’s a coup…can you find out what’s going on!??! But don’t you get too near the window, I’m too scared. Watch out…there might be bullets!

Suddenly, I become aware of the screams. It’s the neighbors. Madness:



–Something something, then ¡veciiiinoooossss!

¡Cayó ese coñoemaaaadreeee!

The terror is contagious, so is the excitement.

Now I don’t know what has me more scared – Nancy’s anguish, the crazy screaming coming from the buildings all around, or the core of it all: a rapid succession of huuge, deafening explosions. I’d never heard anything like it in my life. Their echo hangs in the air.

And they’re not done. They keep coming, huge, an intense white light hyperilluminating the whole neighborhood.

–What the fuck is going on?!, I think aloud.

I crouch down a little every time I hear an explosion. I find myself losing ground on my way to the window. I can’t help but step back, turning my torso a little, and turning my face with each flash, until I realize I don’t want to be standing in front of the window.

I can see the light coming through the blinds. I can see every balcony of every building on the other side of the road, like it’s nearer somehow.

Now I’m sure it’s a coup d’état. I pick up my phone and send a voice note to the Caracas Chronicles WhatsApp group, then redirect it to my crazy Caracas/US/Buenos Aires/Santiago cousins’ group.

After that, I realize that each of the seven or so explosions I heard came from a different point along the avenue. First, far off to the left; then nearer, but still on the left; then right in front of my building; then to the right; farther and farther.

The only theory my scared mind could make up was that there must have been a maldita tanqueta shooting at every building on its way down the street.

Meanwhile, the neighbors’ screams took the path of a different theory:

¡Bajen los breeeeeeeequeeeeeers! (Shut down the circuit breakers!)

¡Desconecten toda mierdaaaaaa! (Disconnect all your fucking appliances.)

¡La neveeeraaaa! (The fridge!)

¡Coñoelamadre! (You know that one)

¡Llamen a la electricidaaaaaad! (Call the utility company!)

¡Ya llamaron! ¡Todo el mundo ha llamado! (It’s done. Everyone already called.)

I could hear a couple of different kinds of explosions from around. Like home appliances exploding.

Damn it! It’s an electrical failure! I got really scared! I thought we were being killed.

Like people in El Paraíso. Or in La Urbina.

Guarimbas in Palo Verde started just a couple of weeks ago. This could have been retaliation.

I try to compose myself. Deep breath.

“Sorry. Just an electrical failure,” I wrote in both groups.

“Ok,” my mind assaults me. “Not being killed (thank goodness!) is nice and all, but do you realize all the transformers up and down your road blew up? Say goodbye to electricity, water, the Internet…”

¡Coñoelamadre!, both Nancy and I say as we exchange glances.