Monday, September 6, 2010

Things I Have Learned From Being on Water Restrictions

I talked about water restrictions last Thursday but I really did not know just how restricted it would be for us. The water company said they would turn the water on from 6-9 AM and from 2-7 PM.  They lied!  They lied! THEY LIED!!!

The water might come on somewhere between 6 and 8 AM and it goes off at 9:20 AM.  It might come on at 3PM. and go off again in 15 minutes, and repeat that cycle until 7 PM, but you never know exactly when that 15 minutes will be. 

There is very little water pressure, so little  it can take 20 minutes to fill the tank on the toilet.  Even when the water comes on, we are on the same line as the hotel.  Of course, they get first dibs on the water, and Rufina starts washing clothes and linens; Miguel starts filling the leaky pool; and we have no water, just the sound of the water trying to push the air out of the faucet.  Saturday, they were nice enough to stop everything until we could get a shower, but, it ended up being a bucket bath with cold water.  There was not enough pressure to fill the hot water tank nor to supply the shower.

I have learned some things.  I think I said I had learned pila etiquette, which means you don't put anything in the clean water.  The clean water gets scooped up with a clean bowl and poured over whatever you are washing or rinsing.  When you are throughyou scoop up a bowl for the next person, who might need to wash his hands, because you don't want him to put his hands into the clean water.

I can now take a bucket bath in less than two minutes using less than one gallon of cold water.  The average 8 1//2 minute shower in the USA  uses 17.2 gallons of water.  Have a teenager?  Ever seen him/her take and 8 minute shower?

The average American, if he lets the water run while he brushes his teeth, wastes 2 gallons of water a day.  We have learned to fill a 20 ounce glass and both of us can brush our teeth and leave some for the next morning.

Today we had to wash a load of MM's work clothes.  It took six 5 gallon buckets of water for each cycle and MM had to carry each of those  buckets up two flights of stairs.  That is 12 buckets of  water, 60 gallons.  We hooked up to the hotel's outside faucet, because we had no water.

If you take your bath late in the afternoon, you can use the same clothes the next day.  Then you put  the shirt in the dirty clothes basket and wear the pants again the next day.  Except Macho Man.  He is allowed to change shirts twice a day and pants every day, if he has been working on the house.

Baby wipes are great for wiping down if you have no water.  They are refreshing, really, and they take off makeup better than anything else I've tried.  I like the ones with aloe the best.  They seem to moisturize the best.  And you don't feel sticky.

If you go swimming late in the afternoon, you may not be 100% clean, but you feel clean.  The hotel will let us do that.  They even told us to bathe in the pool, but I have dreams of them turning on the aerater and mountains of soapsuds flowing all over the place.

The toilet does not need to be flushed every time it is used.  Unless you like lugging 5 gallon buckets around. 

If you get up in the morning every day, and you turn on your faucet and get water, you are better off than much of the world.  If that water is clean, you are even more blessed.

The biggest problem we have is that the crew is still mixing cement, and that takes water, lots of water, and in the next two weeks, when we start pouring the terrazza we will need even more.

Imagine this, my Honduran Macho Man was carrying a bucket of water in one hand, and a Coleman lantern in the other, muttering, "There is no water.  There is no electricity.  What I am doing in Honduras?'.

http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/Residential_Shower_Introduction.aspx
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_water_is_wasted_brushing_teeth

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We Have Water Restrictions

As of today, we are on water restrictions.  My friends in the US think water restrictions mean don't water the grass.  Water restrictions here mean we have no water, except at certain times of the day.  For now we have water from 6 AM - 10 AM and again from 2 PM - 7 PM.  This could change.  I have seen it when there was water from 7 AM to 10 AM   then from 7 PM to 10 PM on alternate days.  I have to plan my day carefully, so I have water to cook, wash clothes and do dishes.  Macho Man has to get his bath early.

My friends in  other parts of the country have been fighting torrential rains and flooding recently.  In Colon we have had no appreciable amount of rain since maybe June, when a couple of tropical storms blew through.  I have commented several times that the North Coast gets 144 inches a year, so it seams unreasonable that our river would run dry, but it is drying up.  We only have rain during the rainy seasons, and then it can rain up to 12" of rian per hour.  During the dry season it is exactly that, dry, except for the humidity. 

 In general, the rainy season in Honduras runs from May to November in the interior and from September to January along the north coast and Bay Islands (with a chance of severe storms any time of the year).
Hurricane Season is from August to November; direct hits are uncommon, but are devastating when they do come.  Remember Hurricane Mitch.  It stood off the Bay Islands for four or five days and did millions of dollars in damage, and took any lives, even on the mainland.

I wish I had known about the water restrictions earlier today.  We haven't had water except occasionally for the last two weeks.  It means we keep 5 gallon buckets of water in the bathrooms and one bucket in the kitchen for the dishes.  It means sometimes a quick shower and sometimes no baths at all, just using baby wipes.  Certainly, there has been no hair washed in several days.  Anyway, today about 9:45, I noticed we had water, and good water pressure, so I decided to  get in the shower, take a bath, and do my hair while I had a chance.  

I lathered up twice, rinsed, and applied the conditioner, and the water went kaput.  It is now 4 PM, the water is on, but just as I started up stairs about 2:15 PM, the woman who cleans for me came,  so I still have conditioner in my hair.  Oh well,  my hair needed a deep conditioning anyway.   

We usually sit on the balcony and enjoy the view from about 5:30 PM to about 7 PM.  Now we will have to eat and wash dishes during that time, so we will have to sit on the balcony during the late evening hours.  At night we can see the lights from the village of Rio Negro, the stars, and occasionally a cruise ship or a container ship with lights blazing, so we still have a view.  

We have a roof over our heads, and even though there is no glass in our windows, we won't get too wet. We cook with propane, so we won't go hungry. We buy water by the five gallon jug and we have three jugs, so we won't be thirsty. The bedroom will stay dry, unless there is a lot of wind, so we will be able to sleep comfortably. We have Coleman lanterns, so we will be able to see at night.

Ironically, there is a big rainstorm coming down the mountain even as I type.  It won't mean an end to the water restrictions, unless it rains 24 hours a day for several days.  Then the people along the rivers and in the mountains have to watch for flash floods and  mudslides.  Sometimes the bridges get washed away by the torrents of water coming down off the mountains.  That means Trujillo is cut off from the rest of Honduras.

We are blessed.