I keep in touch with my friends back in Cuenca pretty frequently, and the big news in Ecuador has been the severe drought that has been plaguing the sierras. There are two rainy months in Cuenca: October and April. This is when the majority of the rain falls, and it does so consistently every day. Farmers depend on this rain for their crops, and citizens rely on it for drinking, plumbing, etc. But there has been a serious drought, and throughout the month of October there was almost no rain.
It’s a similar story around the country, and since Ecuador relies heavily on hydro-electric power, there have been blackouts all across the country. City planners have had to schedule periods throughout the day when certain parts of a city will simply go without power for a few hours. My friends told me they even had to go down to the river one day and stock up on whatever water there was in the event that the toilets would no longer flush.
I remember last year that from time to time service on the toilets would unexpectedly be cut, and you were unable to go to the bathroom for hours, sometimes all day. And once or twice, news didn’t reach the bathroom until it was too late. I feel badly for my friends and the other residents of Ecuador who now have to deal with this problem. We think of certain things as staples of life: food, water, electricity, and on and on. But these kinds of things do prove to you that they are in fact luxuries. You can’t survive on soda if the rains just won’t come.
Every day I used to walk by the Río Tomebamba on my way to work, and I was always captivated by it. When it rained in Cajas National Park outside of the city you would know because the water was muddy brown. At times the water would rush in with white water force and I was sure it would spill over the low banks. Other times it got so low that all of the rocks and boulders were exposed. But now it has apparently disappeared, leaving the river bed dry. That is the source for water for so many people. Now it’s gone.
Apparently people are mad at the government, but presidents don’t make it rain. Many are now starting to suggest that yes, global warming does have an effect after all. In a city that’s so polluted, I would hope that people would finally pay some attention. Some of my friends in Quito now have to teach their night classes by candlelight. Ecuador isn’t the only country experiencing black outs. Venezuela, a nation so rich in energy sources, has been dealing with black outs as well, years after energy became cheap and accessible. Brazil had some black outs last week, though that was blamed on a different cause.
I’m glad I don’t have to be going through that, though a part of me does wonder what it would be like to live through a period of consistent black outs, and how that would change you. No doubt you would become less hooked on technology, which isn’t a bad thing. But of course, things are difficult in Ecuador right now, and so, to my friends in Ecuador, I feel for ya. Keep your heads up.
Above: Río Tomebamba, sort of low on water; dying of thirst