The Faucet Gives You Water

This is what you expect, right? You turn on the faucet and water comes out. I learned on my first day that this is not always so. I was alone in a new country, new house, half bottle of drinking water on hand, and when I turned the faucet nothing came out.

In the summer when there isn’t any rain water shortages are common. When it rains too much the lines get clogged with mud and the water is off until they can be cleaned. If they are fixing something, the water is off. No one seems to know why the water is off most of the time and no one seems to get very upset about it either. Thankfully the water always seems to come back on later. I can only think of once when it was out for more than a day and a water truck came through the neighborhood to fill any container that you gave them.

Panama is working hard to upgrade infrastructure, including the water systems and we have fewer outages than when we arrived five years ago. But, it still happens. Last Saturday the water slowed to a trickle, and then went out. It was back at night but Sunday was more of the same. Monday was variable, but mostly low water pressure. We are in a lower part of the neighborhood so we often have a trickle where the higher houses have nothing.

We have gallons of water on hand so it’s only inconvient when the water goes out. Laundry and cleaning wait, and hair doesn’t get washed. Many houses have water tanks to see them through outages but with just the two of us in a rented house, we are ok without one. I’m always thankful when the water is back on though, and think about the many people in the world who never have water in their homes or even access to any clean water at all.

If we are without something, I’m glad it’s water. Electricity has been very reliable. It goes out once in a great while but almost never for very long. Internet has been equally reliable.

Life in Panama means some things are different, or you do without some things that you always took for granted. But we think, for us, these things are very minor compared to the many things that are so much better. It’s also good to think about what is really important, and to be thankful for clean water even when it occasionally comes in a gallon jug.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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14 Responses to The Faucet Gives You Water

  1. I couldn’t even imagine not having access to water. That is something I certainly take for granted.


  2. oldsalt1942 says:

    Yeah, I HATE IT up here in the States that the water comes on every time you turn the faucet. Where’s the adventure in THAT, anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ponygroomusa says:

    I bring water using gallon jugs from a nearby tap. Haven’t had running water in years. Showers are not taken at home, and clothes are washed elsewhere. We flush the toilet and wash the dishes, fill the coffee pot and cook the noodles. it’s hard to clean certain things without running water.


    • That would be very attractive when we were in Florida if there wasn’t that minimum charge even if you use no water. Here though the $7/mo is included in the rent. I don’t know where else we would shower, maybe in the river. You can take your laundry out but it’s maybe $3-4 a bag and I haven’t seen any laundromats like in the US. Of course people wash clothes in the river too, but it can be rather muddy after a heavy rain. I’m happy to just wait until the water comes back on.


  4. Len Rowland says:

    Hey Oldsalt, what has happened to your Florida blog?


  5. Jan Thompson says:

    Love how you keep things real! 😘


  6. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    Nena’s mom had 9(!) kids. Nena remembers wading into the Caldera and helping wash clothes. I have bathed in the same spot but it was 3 days before the feeling returned to my limbs. To this day, Nena never uses hot water to shower, claims it is too hot.
    I have this theory about warfare. If you promise your guys a hot shower once the enemy is done, they will lay waste to anything between them and that shower.
    Sadly, parts of the Caldera are polluted by all the runoff from construction projects. It was one of the great attractions in Boquete and the river water was drinkable right from the stream. There were a few times the coffee brewers were dumping waste but the alcaldia (and the pueblo) put a stop to that PDQ.


    • 9 kids! That’s a lot of laundry. We are next to the Rio David, a large river Its a comfortable temperature for bathing. Caldera though, is it colder in that water coming down from the mountains? It sure is beautiful around there though. I hope they can keep it clean and beautiful for all of us.


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