Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Water Woes

When we lived in Costa Rica, we became accustomed to the sudden loss of power, phone service or water. Losing water was the worst, but we learned to adapt to this fact of third world life. Last week we had water dripping from the ceiling in our family room; this weekend, we had no water dripping anywhere.

Fortunately, I retain the ability to remain stoic in face of these types of crises. It wasn't always that way. Before we moved to tropical paradise, I took many things for granted, including the constant flow of water from my tap. Costa Rica taught me how to go with the flow, so to speak. We placed flashlights all over the house. We had more candles than a hippie hideaway, and a stock of 5 gallon water jugs. It didn't hurt that we had a swimming pool. Cold bath anyone? Maybe it was the earthquakes that helped put power and water loss into the "no biggie" category. Certainly, a simpler lifestyle focused on family and friends gave us a different perspective on life.

One difference between Costa Rica and the good ol' USA is that when you have a problem here, you make a phone call and help is on the way. When I woke up Monday morning, I sprung into girl scout mode. With the next door neighbors' permission, I hooked up my garden hose to theirs and had water right outside my garage. We filled up buckets for toilet flushing and dish washing. We pulled out the emergency gallons of drinking water I had stored in the cupboard. The well company, which we'd called Sunday night, sent a guy over by 9:30 am. I was afraid our well had run dry, so I was greatly relieved when the technician performed a special test to gauge the water depth. He opened the well cap and dropped a pebble into the opening. Two mississippis later, he assured me the water level was at 50 feet, right where it should be. All we needed was a new pump.

Long story short, we had water flowing through our thirsty pipes before noon. I'd barely tapped into the emergency system I'd prepared. We were $1700 dollars poorer, but that seemed like a small price to pay for a shower. Costa Rican experience aside, I know there are far worse problems to face than a day without water, or even a failed well for that matter. In the scheme of things, it was a minor irritant. Living in the USA protects most of us from so many harsh realities that we become softies. We forget that there are people all over the world who don't have indoor plumbing or potable water. We get steamed if the cable cuts out or our cell phone dies. We drink at the fount of Starbucks and drown in a sea of consumption. Holy moly, I'm starting to sound downright Hobbesean. It's possible I've been reading too many church billboards.

Bottom line is, we forget what's important. My husband and I were talking about this last night in light of the spate of systems/appliance breakdowns we've had in our house this summer. My illness has tested us in ways that make most problems easily and happily managed. I'm fortunate to have access to topnotch medical care, and to be adequately insured. My family is healthy and thriving.

Battle-tested, we march forth.


Jennifer aka Clanc said...

Amen Sister!

Kunal said...

aah, PJ. You've opened up the floodgates to my entire childhood memories growing up in Calcutta.
I admire your attitude.