October 15, 2008

More water

waterIsn't it loverly?

I couldn't resist saying "'Nuff said" on that last article. However, you know me...why write two words when you can write 200, or even better 2,000? It's a flaw of mine, but not a terrible one when you are a blogger, I suppose. Call me thorough.

To answer Daniel and Steve's questions: We have a 260 meter deep well that had 220 meters (!) of water even after it had been pumped out for 12 hours per day for two days! The problem was getting the water out of the well and into our neighborhood tank. The pump was ruined. We were at the mercy of the developer who didn't seem to consider it a high priority.

First we waited for repairmen. Then we waited for parts. Then the electric cables were stolen and we waited for the owners to buy new ones. Then we found that the pump could not be repaired. Then we waited while we took up a collection from neighbors to buy another one. Then we waited for the installers to come from San Pedro. Then we waited while the tank was cleaned and repainted. Then there was a problem with new cables. Once the neighbors got control, however, things moved pretty darn fast. It was very good to see. We were motivated!

We did not break my 9-day no-water record. It was only a tie. I'm also not counting Saturday as a water day, since the water came on only long enough Saturday night for me to drain all the faucets, rinse out the sinks, and run the washer on empty to remove the dirty water from the pipes. Then it immediately went off. Three times this happened! By then I was completely beaten down and swore that I would never be fooled again. Sadly, I was so confident each time that I didn't even think to refill the water buckets until it was too late.

Sunday we woke up to no water all day again. No water and we were down to our last couple of 5-gallon buckets of stored water.

El Jefe had commented a day or two prior about how well I was taking this water situation. We had severe rationing for a month, interspersed with a complete lack of water for from one to three days at a time − never with any advance warning. All that was followed by nine days of no water at all. As I commented to one reader, I only bit off a couple of heads during this entire time. I was glad that El Jefe recognized and acknowledged my good behavior.

At a meeting on Friday, one neighbor asked (with an evil grin), what was La Gringa doing about water? I think she was disappointed when I calmly said that we were using buckets like everyone else. Maybe she thought I was staying at a hotel. ;-) I was taking it well!

However, Sunday was a different story. After all that we (our neighbors) had been through to take this problem into our own hands, after so much hard work and so much money on the part of many neighbors, after finding out that the cost of the pump more than doubled what we were told, after having a congratulatory meeting to brag of our success, after being assured that every problem was addressed, and after being told that once the water came back we would have no more water issues, only to wake up on Sunday to no water, no explanation, and apparently no one working on it, I lost it. I actually cried with frustration.

It was like the devil was out there saying, "Here's your water..."

"Oops. No, you can't have any. Heeheehee."

"Just kidding, here's your water..."

"Hardyharhar, got you again, didn't I?"

"Okay, this time you can have water, really..."

"Idiot! No, you can't have water."

Late Sunday afternoon, the problem was supposedly solved for once and all. Being completely beaten down and not wanting to be an idiot again, I stubbornly refused to flush out the faucets or flush the toilets or wash the dishes. I put the water buckets outside to collect rain in preparation for the next time and basically ignored the temptation to turn on the faucets.

Monday, I began to be a believer again. I took a shower, washed my hair, washed the dishes, and did a mountain of laundry. All is right with the world again − and my world smells much better now, too.

Hey, if anyone wants to know what it is like to live in a third world country, it's easy. Just go out to the curb, turn off your water and leave it that way for nine days. Every now and then, turn off your electricity for good measure. You do learn the survival instinct that way. Of course, since you are in charge, it's not quite the same as being at the mercy of others and not knowing if it will ever come back or how long it will last when it does.

Once during all of this, the city government sent the firetruck out to provide water to our neighborhood. Wow. I was impressed that we got this service. They would only fill buckets, not cisterns, which I thought was fair. I wonder if they would have come out more frequently if anyone had notified them. Service from the city government − will wonders never cease?

A funny story shows that it is important for everyone to know a little bit about plumbing and the fact that water flows downhill − not a widely known fact in Honduras, even among plumbers: One neighbor who has a cistern was buying water − almost every day. (Big trucks will come out and fill cisterns for a price.) She couldn't understand how her family was using so much water. Her next door neighbor, in a house a little lower than hers, couldn't understand what all the fuss was about as they had water every day.


Check valves − it's a good thing, unless you are on the receiving end.
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