Panama has a lot going on, but in some ways it is still a developing country. It’s also growing at a rapid rate and the infrastructure sometimes struggles to keep up.
We are used to being without water for short periods (up to now, never more than a day), and we learned to keep water on hand. Many people have water storage tanks. Sometimes the water would be off because they are fixing something but it would come back on in the evening. Sometimes during the dry season the water would run low so we’d have rolling water outages, kind of like rolling blackouts. At other times we would have so much rain that the inlets that take water from the river would get clogged with mud and debris, and they would have to shut off the water while they cleared them. We could always tell that because the water would come back muddy at first.
The country has been working hard on the water systems. Millions of dollars have been allocated for improvements and to bring safe water as many people as possible. Things have improved here and we went through the last dry season with the water flowing almost all the time. But, Friday evening we noticed the water pressure was dropping, and then the flow stopped entirely.
It is now Monday afternoon and the water is still off. The whole neighborhood is out as well as some of the houses outside our neighborhood. Nobody knows what is going on. Yesterday a water truck came through and people came out with buckets, pails, gallon jugs, anything that would hold water and the truck filled them all.
It’s interesting to see the reactions of the people. They are grumbling a bit now because it’s going on for so long, but no one seems to be seriously upset. People are going to friends for water to bring home for themselves and neighbors in need. Neighbors went out ahead of the truck to alert other neighbors so everyone could get resupplied. Jokes are made about going to the river, but people do use the river if necessary. I myself have bathed in the river, and also in the rainwater pouring off the roof.
This sure makes you think of the millions of people who have no water in their homes, and who have to carry it home from some outside source. We take it so much for granted and I’m sure we use more than we really need.
I have learned that you can wash an entire day of dishes in a gallon of water. You can also bathe two people, including hair, in a gallon of water. You can flush the toilet with a gallon. I don’t know what it takes to wash clothes though. That can wait until we have water again.
If you are considering living in another country, especially one less developed than your home country, keep in mind that you may have to be flexible about some things. This is inconvenient but in the big picture, we still are very well off. And, meanwhile, they are considerate enough to send a water truck to help us out.