Sunday, April 20, 2008

Week 2: Water

The other major accomplishment of Monday and Tuesday was finding a lid to our water tank. The overwhelming purpose for us being here is water. I therefore find our own water situation amusing. Our water comes from a borehole in the little ally behind our house (and next to a latrine). There is one large 2500 L tank on a shodily-constructed platform that is fed by the borehole. There are then several smaller 800 L tanks around the platform (and even closer to the latrine). To get water, we first connect a tube from our lower tank to the platform and climb up the platform to open the valve. We are now filling the lower tank. But, to get water to our plumbing, we have to pump it to the second tank on the roof. So, after connecting the platform to the ground level tank, we have to turn on a pump, the switch for which is in the kitchen. Now, you have to go to the roof to check to make sure that the top tank is filling properly. But don’t dally too long or the lower tank will overflow. After about an hour of running up and down four flights of stairs, checking levels, adding purifier, and turning switches on and off, both tanks are full. Huge pain.

So the point of this story is that the top tank was missing a lid, so anything and everything could fall into it. Apparently, people here aren’t too concerned about that because about half of the tanks that we can see from our roof are missing lids, and it’s next-to-impossible to find one in a store. We started off looking at PVC and piping stores. No luck. We moved on to electric stores and hardware stores. Still no luck. We got motivated and found some specialized tank stores. They don’t sell lids, but they might be able to order one for us if we can wait… Most of Monday and Tuesday was consumed by this quest. At sunset on Tuesday, I reluctantly resigned… but happened to wonder in to the last hardware store in a 5-block radius that I hadn't tried (we happen to live in the Hardware District, by the way). I halfheartedly inquired about lids to tanks—just the lid, not the tank—when before I knew what was happening the guy handed me the lid off a display tank for just 300 bob. I ran out of there before his boss could notice. As I ran off, he yelled, “Wait, wait!” so I moped back, ready to hand the lid back over. Instead, he pressed a bolt into my hand, so I could attach it properly. It was a triumphant moment when the lid fit the tank perfectly and our water supply became contained.

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