Anyone reading this who lives in the States or most of Europe would most likely say, “So what?” Well, actually it’s a fairly big deal here in Panama where a lot of the time water doesn’t just come out of the tap when you turn the knob.
For the last couple of weeks the availability of water has been very sporadic. Recently there was none. Zero. Zip. Nada. And it was like that for almost 48 hours. It’s been so bad that IDAAN, the water agency, brought a tanker truck of potable water to the neighborhood twice and people came out with five gallon buckets to load up. Think about it. There’s no warning that you’re not going to have any water. You turn the tap and you get nothing. You can’t wash your dishes. You can’t prepare your meals without water. You can’t take a bath or a shower. And really important, you can’t flush your toilet. At least you can’t do those things in your house. But there’s a small river by my house I’ve written about before. All day long people come down with their laundry and dinner dishes in buckets. Kids getting ready for school come down to the river just as the sun is coming up to take a bath and their parents follow a little later to get ready for work.
Now, I’m a bit luckier than most. My house is the last one on the road and down a slight hill. I’m able to get water from what’s in the pipeline, but there’s no pressure behind it so it’s impossible to use the washer, but I can get enough to do the dishes and with my solar shower (a plastic bag with a nozzle on it) I’m able to take care of basic hygiene. But with no water pressure once you push the lever on the toilet the tank won’t refill. So what’s one to do? Well, I have three five gallon buckets and when it rains I put them out under the roof overhang and fill them up. Sometimes when it’s really pouring they’ll fill up in just a matter of minutes. I use that water to flush the john.
Even on good days the water pressure is generally only available in the early morning and it’s off by nine o’clock or so and it will stay like that sometimes for the next 10 or 12 hours. This morning I happened to be up and about just before six and there was decent water pressure in the mains. Before I brewed my coffee, checked my email, read my favorite blogs and took my morning meds I had a load in the washer. I was able to get two loads completely done but during the third the pressure had dropped so much that the water flowing into the machine wasn’t any larger than a pencil lead. It had gone through the wash cycle and was half way through the rinse when that happened. I took enough of the rain water to cover the sheets and pillow cases and finished the load that way. Drying, of course is done on the line. Is there anything better than the smell of a pillow case that’s dried out in the sunshine?
Sure it’s a hassle, but hey, it’s how it is here. It’s all about how you deal with it. You can bitch and moan, or you can just get on with your life.