Our adventures by candlelight first began in early November. We were attending an evening coffee shop event when the light went out. Those in charge grumbled that they didn’t know why our generator wasn’t kicking in. Stephen and I picked up our two boys and groped our way through the dark to find our way out of the building and to go home. By the time we had gotten in the house and lit a few candles, the lights were back on.
About this time, I had been reading one of Quito’s newspapers (the on-line version) and read that the city’s hydroelectric plant was struggling to meet the electric needs of the country. Apparently, our rainy season was not producing enough rain to keep the water levels up at to the adequate amount needed to run our power. An article I found on their website stated that the “Paute” (Ecuador’s name for their hydroelectric plant) was currently working at 20% of its normal capacity. This was only a few percentage points away from the critical level in which electricity would start breaking down across the country. The article stated that the government was “considering” rationing electricity to keep from burning out this main source of electricity for Ecuador.
That is when the fun began. For the first couple weeks, we were getting our electricity cut off at random hours of the night. Sometimes it was 3 to 6pm or 5-9pm. Other nights it was 6-11pm. Different sectors of the city were being cut off at different times. Eventually, they began to give us a weekly schedule of the rations. Our schedule rotated to become 1-4pm on weekdays with no rations on weekends. In early January, it was switched to 9-11am. As the first semester came to an end, so did the “apagones” (power outages).
We are grateful to have access to electricity all day. It’s easy to take things like electricity and water supply for granted until you no longer have it.