Friday, August 20, 2010

Waiting for Water

Recently I came across an interesting article on a social trend toward minimalistic living. While this twist on "green" lifestyles, leaning heavily on technology, is intriguing, I realized these last two weeks, that I could probably do it if I had to.

When I packed up and moved to Colombia three years ago - this past August first marks the beginning of year number four - I came with just two large suitcases and a pair of rubbermaid storage bins. This was much less than what I moved out of my apartment in
Manitowoc with by nearly a truck-load. Granted the school here has provided furniture, but some of it serves no real purpose for me other than marking the corners of a room. (The couches are nothing more than glorified dorm lobby pieces.)

Upon returning from the States a couple weeks ago I found I had no water in my home. This was not surprised, and half expected, as I hadn't had time to pay my utility bill before leaving for summer vacation. I was honestly excited when, after taking a deep hopeful breath, I flicked the light switch and the lights came on.

I paid my bill on Wednesday of last week, and it was only restored yesterday after a long holiday weekend and several phone calls. Now, when the utilities people said it would be turning on later on in the day that I paid, I in no way believed them - this is Colombia, c'mon! - but I honestly didn't think it would take over a week's time.

Living knowingly without water has been interesting. Showering at school at the end of the work day and then not over-extending myself for the next 24 hours was tricky, but doable. Having enough forethought to buy bottled water for the brushing of teeth or making tea was a definite mindshift. I already had several used bottles, filled from the tap, frozen in my freezer (as a way to conserve energy) and that was used for rinsing dishes, in moderation, and other chores like shaving and wiping down spills.

This way of doing things went quickly from an inconvenience to a mode de vie. I knew how much water I had stockpiled and how much was needed to do certain activities. I had worked out a bathing system that seemed to work advantageously to my schedule. I am very happy to have my water restored and available at the turn of a faucet, but I learned that perhaps I use more than I need in the first place. When people would ask if my water was back on and my response was that it was not, they gave me the expected exasperated face and "how terrible" comment. Really, though, it wasn't, but I am glad I can now stop feigning agreement.


jsmarslender said...

I've been waiting for a new post! I read the reminded me of a woman I read about a couple of years ago. She allowed herself something like 200 items to own - including house, furniture, clothes. Everything. Anytime she made a purchase, something had to go. I'm assuming she didn't count groceries. Anyway, very shocking how much stuff we ended up with after one year here. I just went through Claire's old clothes to give away and I'll do the same with some books that were passed along to me here. Yikes.

Anyway, good post. I think the point is to not be burdened by what you own. If it becomes a burden, time to reconsider what's going on...

Peter said...

Did you use your neighbors facilities?