me that most people in the Northern Hemisphere will never experience. If and when residents of the “developed” countries must go somewhere in pitch dark, without the incandescent lighting they completely expect and rely on, they are confused and frightened.
Here in Paso Ancho, even when there’s electricity, there are long stretches of the calles that after the sun has set are unlit by any artificial light – neither streetlamps nor houses with electricity are nearby, for these parts of town are mostly inhabited by Ngobe Bugle people. But, when the electricity goes out, as often happens, then the entire town is completely black. The only exceptions are the houses off in the gringo part of town; there the big gringo generators are fired up, generating an alien effulgence that seems to be from another world; you have to be careful not to look their way or you lose your night vision.
These nights, as I find my way home after having dinner and a pleasant evening with friends, are for me a fine adventure indeed. I don’t have a flashlight as I negotiate the calles (what pass for streets in this village, basically dirt paths), and I don’t need one. I let the darkness teach me: it is a Grandfather, a wise master who reminds me to slow down and become acutely aware of my surroundings through the senses, other than sight, yet available to me. This wisdom I am learning to invoke as well during the day.
On either side of the road are deep ditches, and often there are dangerous
deep ragged ruts right down the middle of it, erosion from the runoff from the heavy downpours of Rainy Season. There are, besides, large rocks here and there that can upset the unwary. And I never know if another section of the road has been washed away since the last time I came this way. So, if I’m not extremely careful, I could break an ankle or leg, or even fall and hit my head. And nobody would know about me until sometime the following day. So I must carefully use my senses of touch and hearing and what information sight does afford me.
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