Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Water at Home in Chacala

Today was the day for water problems.

Saturday, the water guy (truck with five gallon plastic jugs of possibly drinkable water) didn’t show up, and also didn’t show up again today. Saw him downtown this morning and he promised to bring drinking water up in one hours (his timeline). But he didn’t show. I knew he wouldn’t because he delivers the lower road one day and the upper road the next day. He doesn’t like to mix up his routes. So no drinking or cooking water Saturday, Sunday and Monday except for quart bottles.

Meanwhile, this morning my landlord disconnected the electricity while I went back and forth on the collectivo to the lavendaria in Las Varas. There has been no water except for occasional toilet flushing since I moved back in, and no water for washing clothes.

It turned out that my landlord had disconnected the electricity at 7am .He apparently was expecting the new pump to come sometime today, so he disconnected the wire at 7am. When I discovered this at 11am the rest of my perishable food (from yesterday’ s power 17 hour power outage) was gone. Disconnecting the electricity is a matter of unwrapping a small piece of black electrical tape and untwisting a wire. The only reason I realized the electricity was off was he came looking for some bandaids to reattach the wires.

While we were waiting for the pump to arrive he decided to replace a burned-out light bulb on the dark end of the house. I got him a chair to stand on and a bulb and watched him. He managed to get the bulb out of the fixture but was unable to screw the new bulb in. I have never seen someone be unsuccessful at screwing in a light bulb. When he went to some tool (he said it’s name in Spanish) I quickly screwed the bulb in and turned the light on before he got back. So he didn’t get a chance to attack the fixture with some tool.

Then my landlord left, and a few minutes later a great guy, Guillermo, owner of Casa Chacala and the Water Board guy, showed up. He came with the pump, a pipe wrench, (which is a very unusual tool around here) and some Teflon tape. He did a nice neat job of attaching the pump to the pipes and cleaning up the snarly mess of electrical wires that attach the off/on switch to the water pump.

He turned on the pump and I ran upstairs to make sure that the priming worked and the pump was pumping water to the roof. It was pumping, and a leak in the copper tubing from the pump to the water storage tank on the roof was spraying water all over the place. The leak in the copper pipe was apparently caused by my landlord letting the pump run the small water storage open holding tank dry, at which point the long stretch of copper pipe starting shuddering and shaking and finally leaking.

Guillermo turned off the pump and said his friend at the under-construction hotel next door would fix the pipe. Twenty minutes later a guy turned up with a some gas and solder, etc and then a ladder and climbed up on the second story roof and fixed the leak.

Tried the pump and it worked and the water tank filled quickly.

Made another round trip collectivo trip into town to get my laundry

Got home, ate dinner with some friends, and came home. I could hear water running where I shouldn’t have heard any water running , and went and found my flashlight. The hose from the town water system to the ground-level water storage open tank was half split apart and water was running onto the ground. I went and got my landlord and lady, who had just walked up the hill with me, and we got the pipe fixed in the dark and got everything back together again.

And here I am typing. Interesting day. Lots of breakdowns and everything ended up working, as far as I know.

In between all the fixing I had two very fun trips into town on the collectives. Lots of laughing and joking. A nice dinner with some nice people. And I got all my clothes washed and all my stuff organized. Where ever I more to, I won’t have much space so I am clearing things out.

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