On September 21, 2016 around 2:30pm, I witnessed the power go in and out. Two seconds later, my house had no electricity. I didn’t really stress it, because I figured in the next 30 minutes I'd have power again.
Six hours later... still no power and I was pissed, not because all the right moral reasons, but because it was my birthday. So with about 47% battery left, I joined my neighbors outside, trying to get some fresh air. Like all logical millennials do, I went to Facebook and Twitter to see what was going on. Apparently the main electrical power plant caught on fire, leaving the entire island in complete darkness. I would soon learn that we were in El Apagón, "the blackout". Surprising, it was some organized chaos. Some even said it was like the story by José Luis González, La noche que volvimos a ser gente, "the night we became people again."
Night One: My friend came over with a cooler filled with Medallas and a gallon of water. He also saved the night by bringing me a candle and batteries for my mini lamp. I am totally not prepared for any natural disaster that hits. As we sat outside, the coquis sang, children were playing, some neighbors even had radios blasting to stay informed. In that moment, I looked up to the sky and for the first time, I saw the stars in the city. These beauties were plenty and shined brightly which reminded me of a night walk on the beach in Rincon. I was happy for once that because of this blackout I could see all the wonderful stars.
Night Two: I was laying in the bed then I began to hear singing and guitars playing. At first, I wasn’t listening to the words just the melodies of this girl’s voice. Suddenly, it was a whole group of people singing and improvising, and I began to jam. I realized they were having praise and worship upstairs. I was so excited because even though we were in darkness, they were still praising God anyway. I began to pray and just thank God for allowing to survive many experiences like this one. I had to join the worship and when I walked in, the room filled with college kids singing. My neighbor said, “had it not been for el apagon we would all be in different places worried about different things, but in this moment we are listening to God. For a few days we're taken away from our distractions and able to focus on God.” At that moment, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else but in Puerto Rico forever.
Night Three: I decided to go to Vidys, the local bar and grill, to charge my phone before another dark night. As I sat in a corner by the bar, I was surrounded by people who knew how to make a good time out of a bad situation. Randomly, my friends showed up to charge their phones too so we just drank beers and wine. When our phones were done charging, we headed to the dance floor. For a good hour we just let our bodies flow to the rhythms that the DJ played. When we first started there was no one dancing, but when we left we had the whole room moving. It was good to let loose, enjoy the moment, and not worry. For the first time in my life, I danced like no one was watching, IN PUBLIC. It was so liberating. Sometime before midnight, the lights came on and I screamed so loud that the entire street heard me.
This was the longest blackout that I’ve ever been in (almost 57 hours), and some parts of the island are still trying to get power back. I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind at some points. But the times that I was able to just vibe with my friends, and enjoy life in its simplicity made it priceless. I also realized to me, Puerto Rico is like that boyfriend who you think he’s amazing but needs some serious improvement. Well after my experience during el Apagón, mi querido Puerto Rico, we've got a lot of work to do
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