As I was nervously counting down the hours before my husband’s departure to Panama, I got a knock at the sliding glass door. Carina, my landlord’s maid, poked her head in and asked if the electricity was working. ”Si esta bien,” I replied, as she walked into the house and began turning on the water in the laundry room and kitchen sink. She left the water running and walked out. I confusedly shook my head and walked over to turn off the faucet, and noticed that it was only pouring down in a thin stream, when it should have been on full blast. Oh dear, please don’t tell me our water isn’t working.
I didn’t have much time to think about it, before my husband’s taxi arrived, ready to ship him off away from the kids and I for four–long–days. Usually, I would welcome a few days alone, but I wouldn’t be alone. I would be with a recently extra-naughty toddler, and a dependent six month old!
I decided to hop a ride on the taxi down to Atenas center, since it was Friday, and I needed to get some produce from the feria viernes. By the time the three of us, two bags and a backpack full of greens trudged back to the house, all I could think of was water. Shower. Drink. Need. Water. Well, by this time my weak stream in the sink had completely dried up! Our landlord had someone already working on it, which was a surprise to see here in Costa Rica. Things seem to go a little slower down here… I had thought it would take at least a week to get someone to check it out.
However, I heard a few gut-wrenching words flow from his mouth, “Grande problema. Mucho tiempo.” Drat. Just what I need. I was running low on cloth diapers, had two sweaty kids, and only a kettle of water (besides the pitcher of lemon water in the fridge).
We made it through the rest of Friday on the limited water in the house. The next morning, I realized I had one other small problem… how do I flush the toilets??? As this realization hit me, along with the anxiety about my dwindling stash of clean diapers, I felt some tears rising.
Well, I’m a mom now, and I decided not to cry about not having water in front of an ever-watching two year old. I kicked myself into gear. I got a jug of water from my landlord, who had carried two over from the neighbors next door. I borrowed a bucket. I set to work. A cap-full of detergent in the sink and a sparing amount of water from my heavy jug mixed together to make my wash basin. The bucket was used for rinsing the clean hand-scrubbed diapers. (Well, I wouldn’t say clean…less dirty is more like it). On the line they went, and I felt a smile of pride spread across my face. I did it! No disposables in this house! Oh yeah, oh yeah! (Yes, that’s me singing & dancing).
Next, I poured another serving from the beloved jug into the toilet tank, and flushed! Woo hoo! Second problem attacked–and that was a real problem. You see, my poor toddler is potty-training…and I couldn’t figure a way to explain why he needed to go potty in his diaper–not in the toilet! So, it needed a flush.
I hand-washed the floors with a wet rag and some Green Works surface cleaner. We slept on one sheet, to minimize the threat of losing all our blankets to spit up, milk or munchkin-pee. The kids only wore diapers (or nothing, in my son’s case) to save on laundry back-up.
Keeping ourselves clean was another issue. My son and I took a few dunks in the pool each day, to his delight. We weren’t squeaky-clean, but we weren’t caked with dirt (as we would have been otherwise). I gave Baby P a cold wet washcloth bath, fearing for her discomfort. Nope–she loved it. The sweetheart giggled with each wipe, especially when I dug in to get that baby cereal out of her neck!
With a jug or two a day, I survived the long weekend without running water. We lost water on Friday morning, and it was finally fixed on Monday afternoon…moments before my husband returned from Panama. Hmph.
I earned some self-assurance, however, through this challenge. I fought back instead of losing my head, and was able to use my hands to keep the diapers, house, and babies clean–all by myself! Who needs running water? Who needs a man!? (Just kidding, Honey, I’d hate to go another day without you!)
Have you ever had a challenge to face like this, and pulled through? If so, please share!