Friday, April 15, 2011

When Technology Fails

Tensions were to be high as all of Olancho left work on Thursday looking forward to vacation, only to find a power outage looming on the horizon.  'Tis the season to burn your fields to plant crops in anticipation of the impending rains.  We haven't had a good rain in at least 3 weeks leaving the river beds dry and the mountain-scape a deathly gray color.  Not only do farmers burn their fields, hurting their local ecology, they don't control the burns leaving technology to suffer.  The dry wood telephone poles connecting our power to the main grid through the mountains was burned--a yearly tradition as I'm told.  When I was running with the light of my lamp just after darkness fell, the faint orange glow of the fires in the distance almost looked beautiful--If only I had known that its beauty would cause more frustration that it was worth.

The obvious luxuries to stay connected to the modern world strike you immediately, such as computer and TV--things that fill your life with the busy entertainment we are all so accustomed to.  As you look for food for lunch or dinner, you realize that there isn't a cold drink in the city.  Then comes the apparent essentials--the things we need and rely on because they have become crutches to our very existence.  You realize that without electricity, you can't see at night.  Inside turns out to be darker than outside as the light of the moon is much more luminous than you thought.  Streetlights provide much needed light to cities, but what you realize without electricity is that streetlights also create the absence of the light they provide, leaving places on the street seemingly much darker.  In just the dim glow of the moon, the playing field is leveled and it is as though you can see better without unnecessary, unnatural light pollution.  In our blackout, it seems that as darkness befalls the city just after 6, the town counts the ticks until it is a reasonable time to find the comfort of their bed and the hope that tomorrow will of course be filled with the light the sun promises.

The black out couldn't have come at a worse time for me, as I neglected to make the appropriate plans for a week of travel.  I am rendered helpless without access to information technology to make reservations or map my journey.  As the last bar of my cell blinks away,  I feel the fear of being disconnected completely.  It's even strange to pen a blog entry in a candle lit room, like a Medieval monk transcribing a bible in the comfort of his den.  As modern humans, there is something to fear in a regress of technology.  I can't help but wonder how safe it is to have such an addiction to anything.  In the end, no matter how compelling the argument, I'll always chose light over darkness.

And just minutes after I finished writing, the microwave beeped and the lights flipped on.


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