Turn the Faucet for Water

This is what we are used to, but here in Panama it doesn’t always work like that. Some areas have more problems than others, but it seems no one is immune to times without water. We have learned to be prepared so we have gallons in each bathroom, more in the kitchen, and still more in the laundry room. We could get by for days and that doesn’t count the buckets to catch rainwater, or the little swimming pool that we still haven’t drained.

But, it is a bit inconvenient when the water doesn’t flow. Monday we woke up to no water. No one seems to know why it went out. It didn’t come back until late in the day on Tuesday which is by far the longest it has ever been out. We had laundry piled up ready to wash on Monday. Bathing was by bucket and washcloth. By Monday night the dishes were piled up so I broke down and washed them with some stored water. Then, just to make it more interesting, on Monday night the power went out for an hour or so. I learned later that a snake had gotten into a transformer and took out a main distribution line which affected David and much of the surrounding area.

These incidents make you think about how much you take for granted. I get up every day and expect the power to be on, the internet to be working, and water to come out of the tap. How much of the world’s population never has internet, or even electricity? How many people have to carry every bit of their water from somewhere else? There are many people right here in Panama who go to a river to bathe and wash clothes.

There is nothing like being without to make you really appreciate something! It was such a joy to stand under the shower, and so much easier to wash dishes and clean the kitchen. On Wednesday we did three loads of laundry by simply putting them in the machine. Panama is working hard to upgrade the water systems and bring potable water to every citizen. But, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded now and then how fortunate we are to have our services.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Panama and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Turn the Faucet for Water

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    We have our water problems here in Boquerón, too. Actually pretty much on a daily basis. Generally the water pressure drops to next to nothing around 9 in the morning and stays that way until early evening. No one seems to know why, but it’s just that way. When there are heavy rains the water is often shut off for a period of time. Since the area’s water comes from rivers, when the rain is especially heavy there’s a lot of silt and the water is shut off so that the filters at the water plants can be cleaned.

    This is simply every day life here in Panama and I find that it’s generally the Gringos who bitch and moan that the water’s out. Panamanians simply shrug it off. As you know, I live right beside a little river. When there’s no water and people in my neighborhood need to get to work or simply go into David or Bugaba to do some shopping they don’t gripe that there’s no water. They grab a towel and a bar of soap and walk down to the river and take a bath. Hey, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

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    • People here don’t say much either. They just deal with it. We also have shut offs when there is too much rain and the filters have to be cleaned, or when there is too little and they do rolling shut offs, or when something needs to be repaired. I wonder why you lose pressure in your neighborhood every day but as you say when you know that’s how it is, you learn to work around it.

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  2. Laureen says:

    Yep, you are so right Kris. When we were staying in Concepcion the water was out daily. We do take so much for granted…spoiled indeed.

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    • Really. I didn’t know Concepcion had so many problems but it was dry season when you were there, wasn’t it? There are a lot more problems when it doesn’t rain.

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      • Laureen says:

        Yes Kris, it was the second week of April when we were in Concepcion, so I suppose it should have been the beginning of the wet season, but a little late this year. We did see one short rain while staying with Dee, and saw a few good rains staying with Bill in Potrerillos Abajo. I am wondering if the ‘no water’ situation is more a problem with the infrastructure of a particular community, rather than if it is the wet or dry season. Not having water outages in Potrerillos Abajo was a huge plus, but what really sold me was the temperatures. My window of comfort is more narrow than I thought!

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        • Some areas do have more trouble that others, but I think it is common for everyone to have more water outages in the dry season. How nice that there are different elevations here so people can find just the right temperatures!

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  3. Robert & Helen says:

    We lived in the Caribbean and water shortages and restrictions are quite normal. Now in Santa Lucia – Volcancito we have been regularly 2-4 days without water from the mains. We have a tank of 300 gallons and the owner installed fortunately a 2nd tank of 660 gallons. Problem solved. But we are always careful to use as little as possible.

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    • I have heard from many people that there are a lot more problems up in your area. I have also heard that the mayor is working hard to improve the situation so maybe things will be better in the future. Meanwhile, thank goodness for water tanks.

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  4. Great report Kris!
    So far ,after being here a month we have not had an issue with water. Sound of knocking on wood.
    The Power being out, yes. But heck it’s Panama.
    We are now in our house off Volcancito road with 2 water systems, municipal and agricultural.
    After living on our sailboat for 6 years we are water misers still!

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    • I know you know how to live with very little water! I’m glad you haven’t had problems up there with the water. I think I’d rather have power though, and thankfully we seem to have minimal problems down here.

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  5. RJ says:

    Is this a regular part of life in Panama regardless of where you live, r is it a regional thing? From the photos you have posted it looks like you live in a somewhat more rural area? True? Is it a function of that or does this occur in the city of David as well?

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    • Yes, this is a regular part of life in Panama anywhere you live. It happens in Panama City too, though I think large buildings are more likely to have water tanks to help during those times. We live on the north side of David just within the city limits. I think it might actually happen more in downtown David than it does here. The government has allocated a lot of money to work on the water systems all over the country, but there is so much growth everywhere that the infrastructure often has trouble keeping up.

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  6. Sunni Morris says:

    Thankfully the water stays on here, but we have frequent power outages. These things do remind us all of how spoiled we are and how much we take for granted. Living in the desert isn’t pleasant when it’s triple digits and the power is out so we can’t even use a fan. We have way too much growth here and all the lines are old, plus we get horrific windstorms, which don’t help.

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    • Oooh, that would be bad to be so hot without power. I’d much rather do without water than power. There are areas here, like Pedasi, where growth has outdone the power supply and they have similar problems.

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  7. It reminds me of growing up in Connecticut. I remember getting power outages and black outs especially during storms.
    Part of the adventure!

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