Photo: Bangkok Post retrieved
Thursday, March 7th
That day, I didn’t know if my parents were ok. I didn’t know if they’d managed to get somewhere for the night, to flee the danger. I didn’t know anything from anyone, just me and my grandparents. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t get home; any effort was in vain.
I was at my boyfriend’s on Baralt Ave., downtown Caracas. While checking Twitter on our phones, we realized that the blackout seemed national. We got worried. We immediately left the house to see if I could go home. If I couldn’t make it then, it would be impossible later.
Pandemonium had already started. Apocalypse had come.
The number of people walking in the streets was unbelievable. The Metro was closed and many buses went by with their doors closed because they weren’t working. Some drivers were forced by the police to take passengers; others charged triple the usual fee or more. Mayhem. Hysteria. The city turned into a blazing anthill. Stampeding animals dressed as people. I saw an old lady trying to get on a bus with great difficulty, only to be pushed back out and to the ground. Nobody helped her. The lady wasn’t as important as the room she left for others to get on and leave. People’s priorities were to run and be safe before nightfall, no matter how.
We returned home. There, I tried to contact my family. After an hour, I could only talk to my grandmother. I managed to talk to my mom later, but only to let her know that the blackout was real and that she had to look for a place to stay. Then, nothing. Darkness and silence. Conversations under the light of scented candles, phone calls of people checking if I was ok. Waiting. In those situations, having an electric kitchen is the worst. It forces you to go to a neighbor’s house to cook, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible; it’s either that or starvation.
We stayed up until 11:00 p.m., waiting for power to be restored. I reduced the brightness of my phone’s screen to the minimum to save some battery. We went to bed. I fell asleep. At midnight, I heard people banging pots, screams, and gunfire coming from the avenue. My boyfriend went to the kitchen for a glass of water… he was agitated when he got back, his heart pounding when he said: “I had to crawl back… I moved across the living room and a red laser targeted my chest… I dropped to the floor. Don’t go out.”
Friday, March 8th
Power hadn’t been restored in the morning. I had breakfast, took my things and left. I didn’t know if I’d have to walk home. I found a bus that left me a few kilometers away. The streets were desolate, everything was closed. Mom and dad were home, they were ok. Relief. My mom had just gotten back; she couldn’t make it the day before either.
Saturday, March 9th
I felt humiliated, torn apart, denigrated.
I had no mobile signal on Friday or Saturday. No one did. We were isolated. No power, no water. Locked up. 48 hours of blackout. We ate everything that could rot: meat and chicken. We ate in the dark, mechanically. There’s nothing romantic about candlelight dinners now. I felt humiliated, torn apart, denigrated. I slept, yes, but my body hasn’t rested, I feel beaten. Days grew short, the light was a stranger to me, nights became longer and unbearable with the neighbor’s loud, drunken, fire-lit parties. We don’t know how to stand the crisis, we can’t deal with it. Tragedy engulfs us but we take refuge in laughter and beer to deny it, to reject the disaster that ruined us.
Sunday 10th, 5:30 p.m.
72 hours without power and suddenly, it was restored in my home. I got wind that an acquaintance who lives in Cua (a commuter town to the south of Caracas), was stranded in the railway system on Thursday due to the blackout and that, for fear of darkness and crime, he stayed in the wagon the entire night with others who suffered the same misfortune. There were children, pregnant women and elderly citizens, none prepared for that contingency (Who could be?). 15 hours there, without food or water. Nothing. They left the wagon at dawn on Friday and walked for four hours across the rails to reach the closest station.
One of my friends was missing. When she managed to get in touch on Sunday night, she told us that she’d been all of those days in the Vargas Hospital with her uncle, who was very ill and got rapidly worse with the blackout. He didn’t survive, he died in the dark… And this is just one of the thousand things that happened while I was isolated: looting in front of an aunt’s house in San Martín; explosions of power lines and substations; kidney patients and children dead or dying due to the blackout; business owners who partially or totally lost their production; rotten meat, protests, tear gas, repression, disinformation, fear, panic, death and more death.
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported.
We’ve been able to hang on for 19 years in one of the craziest media landscapes in the world. Now, the difficulty level was raised abruptly with the global pandemic. We’ve seen different media outlets in Venezuela (and abroad) cutting personnel to avoid closing shop. This is something we’re looking to avoid at all costs, and it seems we will. But your collaboration goes a long way in helping us weather the storm.Donate