Water Shortage in Las Tablas 4


water shortage, water outage

Water Outage

(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.

Water Tank for water shortages

Water Tank in Las Tablas

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.

Electrical Outages

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.


4 thoughts on “Water Shortage in Las Tablas

  • 4sarge

    Electricity, the elusive giant that WE all depend upon for our modern lives. Even my dogs are soothed by the chatter of the radio or the TV and when the almost absolute silence of Power Outages are at unease, Living quite rural in the wooded jungles of the Mid West, 4 miles of gravel road with unprotected vulnerable power lines. We are vulnerable to Power Outages year round, Weather, whether it be Wind, extreme rain, lightning, Snow or Ice or even man-made a drunk or erratic driver. Being without the refrigerator, or the well pump are our biggest obstacles. Things have improved, I’ve been w/o power for as long as 3 full VERY long days, days, winter or summer. The neighbors say 3 weeks in the old days but that was caused by a horrendous tornado that wreaked havoc over a wide area.
    Lights, Heat, Cooking and Radio I have covered. The well pump, fridges & freezers are at risk. One tip is Do NOT Open the fridge or freezer once the Power is Out. I’ll admit, I have had to Violate that Rule but once you open that door, you shorten your Cool. IF it’s going to be awhile, insulate the outside of the fridge with blankets or with bath towels.
    Water, I keep about 60 gallons or more of store bought drinking water on hand at all times.
    Generators, I love to Hate them. I have 2, a backup and a large But Not whole house to power the well, revitalize the frig or just peace of mind. BUT, one can Not count on these because Murphy’s Law is always at Play. What Can Go WRONG Will, When One is least Expecting it A 50 Below, extreme wind, Ice and 20+ inches of snow on the ground, 3 weeks of Hell which tested My Patience and Generators WE Both Failed Miserably.
    Thus my Interest in the SUN and Warmth of Panama for these Old Bones & Joints.

    • JK Mikals Post author

      Well, I think it’s fair to say you definitely “live in the country.” (LOL) I hope one of these days you do make it to Panama. Sounds like you would adapt well.

  • 4sarge

    Two Topics that are Important to our modern lives, the free flow of water and the mysterious electric current. I’ll address them separately. I moved to a farm almost 10 years ago for retirement bliss. What I did was bought myself a hard almost thankless J.O.B., but I love it. Water, we are on a well, so in times of drought we are hard pressed to pump massive quantities for livestock & irrigation. I started collecting and storing rain water for those 2 purposes. I started simple (cheap) with 6 40 gallon Rubbermaid trash cans that I already had. Moved up to used food grade 55 Gallon drums and now 2 – 275 gallon liquid food totes (margarita mix). We have a small pond where if need be, the water could be cleansed and filtered for those uses or in extreme situations I would filter, boil and or bleach for human consumption. We have a neighbor w/o a well who uses her pond water, filtered for showers & dish washing But does not drink it or cook with it. Clean Water will be a world wise concern in our lifetime. I have many inexpensive filter plans and holding ideas if you need them.

    • JK Mikals Post author

      I used to live “in the country” as well. We had a spring and two holding tanks for the water – one to catch it below the spring, the other to catch it after we pumped it up the hill above the house. And there was a pond. And a bank of batteries to hold the electricity captured by the solar panels, etc. Your setup sounds terrific.

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