At exactly 6pm last Wednesday, Ibiza town lost power. While those living out in the campo experience power shortages quite often, it’s been about a decade since we last went without light or electricity in the capital – back in the dark ages, so to speak (I do love a pun). So when a mysterious silence fell over Dalt Vila last week – which I really only identified after my computer stopped charging and my WiFi fizzled out – I stepped out onto my balcony to see a flurry of chefs and shop owners standing in the street looking at each other in bewilderment (while the tourists sat around sipping their drinks none the wiser).
Exactly what is one supposed to do when Ibiza has no power? Well, unlike the dark ages, I quickly discovered that life (for someone whose work involves a lot of time online) simply goes on in a blackout. Obviously in the middle of broad daylight, there’s no need for candles and with the advent of 4G, I simply needed to use my phone as a hotspot for the internet and it was business as usual. That is, until my phone and laptop battery started to run out. The desktop computer was clearly out of order and obviously I had no idea when the power would come back on – was it worth heading out to another village in search of a power source? Or would the power come back on the minute my I got to my car?
I decided there was one woman who would know for sure exactly what the score was – my corner shopkeeper, Maria. Maria’s family have operated that little corner store for over 84 years (that or she’s 84 years old and has spent her entire life in the shop, sometimes her mumbling lightning fast Spanish confuses me) and she knows the ins, the outs, the secrets and the gossip of every neighbour, every other shopkeeper, every restaurateur, every chef, every waitress, every busker, every walking tour guide and even every child from the neighbourhood. This time last year, Dolce & Gabbana preserved her image forever in one of their Ibiza campaign images, peeking out of the shop door with her little grandson beside her. She truly is a Dalt Vila legend.
Anyway, I digress. I popped down to see Maria, who was sitting outside on the street while the shop was in pitch black darkness. “Tienes luz?” I asked her (despite the fact the answer was pretty bloody obvious – no she did not have any lights!), and she quickly gave me the low down. The entire town – not just Dalt Vila – was out of power due to some construction and it would be about two hours before they cold restore it. I looked down the square to the ice cream shop, and wondered how long they’d last before they started giving out free ice cream to anyone who wandered past.
I decided that the universe was telling me to take a break and that I should go lie down on my lovely roof terrace and soak up the early summer sun (thankfully, the blackout was before the awful heat wave arrived). But as I walked into my house, I heard the dehumidifier chugging away and realised we already had power restored. Bring the good honest girl that I am, I went back to work and then within two minutes, the WiFi dropped out again and we were yet again without power (cool story, I know, sorry, I do have a point). And as the power came in and out intermittently for the next hour or so, I was struck by the true sound of silence, over and over again. The difference between my normally quiet square and the actually SILENT square was enormous.
What I thought was was originally very very peaceful, every day silence is actually full of the sounds of electricity humming from the shops and restaurants below, not to mention all of the surrounding apartments. And once you hear the difference, that hum starts to sound almost deafening. We forget (well, we townies who never go a day without electricity anyway) in this crazy busy WiFi-powered world that there is such a thing as disconnection and I started to ponder the idea of dedicating at least one day a week to going somewhere without any hums or buzzes; somewhere with nothing but the sound of silence. But then, the power came back on and I got distracted by Google and life went on. But at least it gave me something to write about on a day I had extreme writers’ block!