(Heavy drama:) The two foot space next to the refrigerator was a total mess. I had stacked my water bottles there. A little voice has been telling me I should fill up those same water bottles for some time. I was realizing I should have listened more closely.
The water was shut off.
When I moved into this subdivision one of the advertising points from the gent I rented from was a big pitch about how we were not on the city water system, but had our own supply and it was fabulous and we didn’t need to worry about the water outages which, along with electrical outages, are so common here.
So imagine how appalled I was to turn on the faucet only to have nothing come out!
I had absolutely no drinkable liquids in the house except wine, and not a lot of that. I hadn’t yet done the dishes, and I needed to wash my hands after picking up after my little Chihuahua Zozo.
The latter problem resolved with some sanitizing gel, I went to ask a neighbor if she had water and/or knew what was going on. She said no, but showed me that she was still getting a trickle from her tap. The little voice got very loud at that point – Fill your bottles, dummy! – but I still ignored it, as she said the Powers in Charge of Water had said the water would be back on later that day.
I figured I could tough it out for a few hours.
At five pm there was still no water, so I went next door again to see if she knew of any new developments. Well, her trickle had stopped. She gave me a bottle of drinking water from her refrigerator. I then thought to try my own laundry sink and sure enough I had a trickle. I immediately rushed to get a bottle to fill up. I was surprised when I managed to get four bottles out of it. I returned the cold drinking water to my neighbor and gave her another to use for washing, should she need it.
Water Shortages Around Town
That little anecdote actually happened some time ago. And while this situation was pretty unusual for our subdivision, water cutoff in most of Panama’s interior, and specifically to my knowlege, in Las Tablas, is almost as common as electrical outage. Which is pretty common.
As I found out later, the pumping system for our beloved subdivision well was approaching the end of its useful life and needed some serious repairs and upgrades. This has since been done, and now our supply is blessedly regular. But the rest of Las Tablas still suffers from regular outages. And when we had the contamination scare in early July of 2014, our subdivision again had water when the rest of the pueblo did not.
One solution the locals have developed to mitigate the pain of water outage is to install holding tanks. These are kept full and used when water cutoffs happen. You see these raised blue or black plastic tanks outside most homes that can afford them. My neighbor across the busy street from the subdivision where I live has one, and so do several other of the more prosperous looking homes.
We have one of these almost daily. I just keep an emergency light handy in every room and don’t worry about it. Sometimes the outage lasts 4 or 5 hours. This makes me worry very slightly about frozen food. Since most of my frozen food is stuff I have frozen myself, I know how long it has been frozen and how hard, which is not very. Living from the contents of a deep freeze seemed like such a great plan when I first got here. Since, I have learned that nearly everything that can be frozen, already has been frozen (at least once (!)) when you buy it at the grocery. Refreezing meat is said to be a particularly bad idea, so I often cook it first. But sometimes I don’t and, interestingly, I have neither died nor sickened because of it.
But that could be simply because I don’t like heating up the kitchen every day, so my home-frozen dinners are usually not more than 2 weeks old. That means, they are safe enough, I think. When I get excess fruit I freeze that, too. Papaya slices in a Ziploc bag freeze very nicely, as do mango slices and pulp from over-ripe mangoes. Bananas and plantains freeze well, and even when they thaw a bit and refreeze it’s still relatively easy to separate one or two. Cooked squash goes in there, and similar foods.
A friend tried to tell me I didn’t have to refrigerate mayonnaise for it to be safe. I made the sign of the evil eye and ignored him. I find it hard to go against a lifetime of being told the opposite and all the stories of Death by Deviled Egg on which I was raised. So I’m not willing to play guinea pig and test that one.
In any case, I can verify that thawed and refrozen ice cream is just plain nasty. (OK, I agree that’s off-topic.)
I have my computers on a giant back-up battery now. Maybe I should get one for the refrigerator? Ho ho. Make that Jo jo.