Friday, December 21, 2012

Water and Electricity

Water and Electricity
During the Hurricane in New York a month ago, I wondered how everyone was on the internet without power.  I was informed they did this through telephones.  I am so removed from technology that this thought never came to me until several days later.
A few days after the storm, a friend of mine staying at a hotel with a generator invited me over to charge my phone.  I was so thankful because that is my connection to the outside world.  I also learned at that point that the two telephone companies were allowing people to come and charge their telephones during work hours, which seemed pretty generous to me.  But all of this gave me hope.  I am not stuck in a disaster and have the ability to call someone to make me smile.
On the 7th day after the storm, the Peace Corps office restored power.  This meant during working hours I had a back up place to charge anything I needed.
Although I say we have electricity, it is often shut off for hours at a time without notice.
Although I keep being told that we will have electricity soon, looking at the power lines dangling that cars have to swerve to avoid, electric poles that are not connected to each other, and even electric wires in the river.  I don’t see them being quick about getting electricity to my area.
As for water, I felt really fortunate about my situation.  We bought bottled water, and ground water was flowing from the wall.  However, after several days of heavy rain, it soon stopped, and my hope for everything to be alright started to go away.
On the 5th day of no running water, our wall began to only trickle.  I spent four hours filling up all the buckets that I could after an exhausting day at work.  I knew though that that was my last day of having water at my fingertips so I wanted to fill up with as much as I could.
The next day as I went off to work, my husband went down to the river to collect the not as clean water and carry the buckets up the hill to our house.  He keep doing this task several times a day.
After work, in order to clean myself, I bathed in the river, hoping some disease does not jump into my body somehow.
I thought I hit the jackpot with my friend staying at the nice hotel as I could shower there…however when I went over one day, they had just ran out of water and wouldn’t be getting more in for another several hours.  Their water supply shrank considerably and were going to be issued buckets for when they showered to collect water to use for the toilets.  I could not image paying for that kind of “luxury”.
My river bathing continued and I began to feel completely frustrated with life as not having clean water and electricity can just mess with your mind.  I had begun eating poorly during the storm, as I did not want to eat anything that might make me defecate.  I was becoming malnourished and still busy with all of my commitments and just feeling so worn out.  On top of it all, I was not drinking enough and was dehydrating myself.   I couldn’t drink in the morning and during the day because of having no toilets around, and so I only had evenings to pee freely.  Sometimes when I arrived home, most or all of the water had been used up, and I had felt guilty for not collecting water that day, so I would wait until dark and simply urinate outside.  
Finally, I reached my breaking point.  Being unclean for 8 days without electricity was enough.  So many places had water and electricity, why couldn’t we have it?  I just kept dreaming of my Christmas trip to Savaii, an island full of running water and electricity.  It almost seemed too good to be true…kind of like a mirage.  But at my breaking point, I went to see (I guess I should say cry) to my nurse.  She said everyone is feeling that way, which I understood, but it sucked.  She encouraged me to drink more water and gave me rehydration salts to put in my water.
I have now reached double digits of not having water and electricity, and I know I can hold out another day or two until I can reach Savaii.

The debris in the river that I bathe in.

The bus station.

The bridge broke see the picture below.

A crack in the bridge above.

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