power out, candles on

(canoa, ecuador, near bahía de caráquez)

we spent saturday evenings cutting loose, swimming, tromping up and down canoa's main road and imbibing caiparinhas, a popular drink that is no longer popular with me. always, reggaeton blasted from nine different bars, each climbing the volume knob to reach a new status, to be THE place to be, as though the loudest bar would attract the most customers.

mid-caiparinha, the power went out, and the hum of the beach town stopped as if mid-sentence. no one was surprised that the lights went out, exactly, but everyone was a little put out. when reggaeton is blasted without synchronization from nine different speakers, it has a tendency to make everything seem super charged and full of life, so when the sound ceased to be, it deflated the scene. it sucked out the air.

we consoled ourselves in the wake of reggaeton through disembodied conversation, waiting for our eyes to adjust or for candles to do the work for us. gradually, the town began to buzz again with conversation.

in the restaurant behind us, three sisters brought out candles to guide their way. i ran back to our room in the hostel and grabbed the camera i had hidden beneath the mattress. the road was dark. i couldn't see anything, so i lifted my toes, hoping i wouldn't catch a tree branch or a dip in the road.

i returned to the restaurant without any major mishaps and took a few shots of the girls. eventually, they noticed me, and i, in broken spanish, tried to find out a little bit about them. ¿son hermanas? ¿cuántos años tienen?

they blushed and giggled. the best i could do was smile back, see if they minded if i took more pictures. they didn't and soon forgot i was there. they returned to their world of make believe, of light and darkness. eventually, i returned to the bar conversations and caiparinhas.

as all good things must, this reprieve of reggaeton ended as the bar across the street turned its generator on and the music spurted out. my group escaped to the beach where we laid on our backs and gazed at the clouds traveling across the moon. behind us, the generator brought sound and light back to canoa.