This past week has been a less than glamorous one in this Caribbean expat household.
As you read this, let me preface it by saying this can be a normal part of island living. With the good, comes the unfortunate. So here goes, first, we ran out of water, and then our power outages continually worsened. Picture no air conditioning in 90-degree weather with the real feel of 105 degrees, no water for three days which also means no plumbing. Thank god for that Caribbean breeze. So this week we took it back to what I like to call vintage living. Let me start by explaining the water situation. The electricity and our water supply go hand in hand. This month has had the most power outages in years in Santo Domingo, at least in our neighborhood. The pumps that carry water from our local aquifer broke, leaving no water supply coming into our community’s cisterns. Once they were fixed, because of the electricity consistently going out, the pumps weren’t pumping. Every time the electricity is back on and the pumps start pumping, the power goes out again, and the water falls back to the aquifer, because our community is on the top of a hill. Long story short, no water has been pumped into our community now for quite some time. Now, with that said, if you have a cistern in your yard, this isn’t the biggest hassle. With a cistern, you can call for a truck to come fill it up with water. But if you have a water tank on your roof, there is no way to get water into it without your pumps; unless of course you think you’re MacGyver like my fiancé just so happens to believe. Our water tank is on our roof so because we couldn’t get water brought in by a truck, we had to come up with a new solution.
Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine being in the shower and all of a sudden the water starts trickling less and less. Now it stops. Yup, you’re out of water. Anyone living on an island has had this happen to them. Because the water supplies aren’t the greatest on some islands, many times you’re left in this predicament at some point or another. No water means showering with a bucket, flushing the toilet with a bucket, and doing the dishes with a bucket. Vintage living style. Or maybe less vintage and more old n’ days ? In any case, when you have absolutely no water supply coming in, you are left to use your jugs of drinking water which dwindle fast. So we had to come up with a solution. We couldn’t be constantly calling our local colmado to deliver jugs of water. Come in, my fiancé, the ultimate MacGyver want to be. After some thinking, he decided to ask our neighbor for his help. Picture this, a hose hooked up to our neighbors sink, thrown over the wall between our houses, and me tossing the hose up to my fiancé as he’s climbing up to our roof. Yup, we’re filling our water tank, which is on our roof, with a hose connected to our neighbor’s sink. Of course we called for a water truck to come and replenish his water supply because he has a cistern. Thank God for great neighbors. Side note, that’s a big difference I’ve noticed here in the Caribbean, people are a lot friendlier and always willing to give a hand. The meaning of community here is stronger.
Next up, power outages getting worse and worse. This past month the electricity has gone out on average 3 times a day. Sometimes its for a few minutes and sometimes it can be for hours. Two nights ago, we woke up to something that sounded like an explosion. Bam, power’s out for the next 13 hours. Then back on for a couple hours, then off for a few hours, then back on for a couple hours. I think you get the point. We’re currently out of power as I’m writing this. What better time to write? Thank god for the charge on my MacBook being so strong. Anyhow, a transformer blew leaving us in this current situation. Come in MacGyver again. My fiancé is an avid radio control connoisseur of sorts and all things mechanical. So he created a battery for us to plug our fan and phone chargers into. Of course it only lasts for a small amount of time, but it’s better than nothing. Along with no electricity, you have no hot water. Little fact, that was a huge adjustment for me; to remember to turn the water heater on every time I shower. But believe me, when you are without air conditioning in 90 degree weather you don’t need your water heater. When we finally hear that little beep from the air conditioning unit indicating our power is back, you will be hearing yells of joy from this household.
In any case the last week has left me with a few thoughts.
1. Living on an island, your appreciation for everyday things such as water, wifi, and air conditioning grow tremendously. Back in the states, you hear people huff and puff when their power is out for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this also. But living on an island, I have a far greater appreciation for things we normally take for granted. We often forget that there are people who live with no electricity and no running water in general.
2. We learn a lot of lessons living on an island. One being how to take a shower with a bucket.
3. In the Caribbean, you are surrounded by beauty, but sometimes you end up in not the best of situation. We can be so thankful that even though things like power outages and no water occur, we are able to catch some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets around. We are able to stop and see all the small things in life and unplug from our crazy world to truly relax and unwind.
How do you keep yourself busy when your electricity is out ?