Day 5 without water and I have failed the drought test

Over dinner with friends recently, we complained about the lack of any decent places in Jamaica to buy things – quality food and clothes included. If you need to shop, fly to the land of abundance – Miami. After an hour of needless complaining we put our first world problems into perspective. We wake up in paradise every day and we lead beautiful, happy lives – mostly. Yet, now I’m experiencing a developing world problem, that a trip to Miami can’t remedy – no water. Jamaica is in drought and has been experiencing drought conditions for the last few years. It’s affected agriculture, horticulture, food prices and there’s been more bush fires.  Whilst the Mona Dam is looking healthy – it’s nowhere near full and we’re approaching the end of the rainy season. It doesn’t bode well for next year. Recently, there have been frequent water-main turn-offs. Which normally wouldn’t affect us as we have two 1000 gallon water tanks in our back garden. Yet, last Friday, the tanks ran dry as the mains had been off for a few days and we’ve been without water ever since. When the water man came up to refill the tanks we stumped up the 15,000 JD and waited. The water came through the taps eventually but it was dirty, orange and filled with rusty debris- presumably from the inside of the prehistoric water truck. Then the actual hydraulic water pump gave up and the dirty water couldn’t make it through the taps anyway. So we had to wait until after the long weekend to have it repaired. We loaded up on bottled water and just expected it to be no big deal. We had lots of water – just not coming out of the taps. By Sunday our bottled supplies had run out for the second time (the wet flannel wash just didn’t cut it) we got fed up and went to stay in a hotel. It’s amazing how simple things like taking a shower, cooking, doing laundry and flushing a toilet become major obstacles without water. For us there will be a happy ending, the pump will be replaced, the water tanks will be cleaned out and refilled and we’ll be better prepared to make sure they don’t run out again. But if you don’t have the luxury of a disposable income to stump up to get your water tanks refilled or if you’re reliant on mains water and don’t actually have a water tank at your disposal then you’re at the mercy of the turn-offs. I couldn’t survive a weekend without complaining, yet it’s part of life for many Jamaicans. I’m sure in a few weeks i’ll have forgotten all about this episode, but I hope I don’t forget how something so readily available for us in the first world can actually be a daily challenge for many in the developing.

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