Seco. Sin una gotita de nada.
Dry. Without a drop of anything.
The six barrels sat empty behind the house beside the rain tank that had been collecting dust for weeks.
Laundry. Laundry had become like this unspoken, yet ultimate fantasy for most of us. As if we thought, “Laundry, what a luxury! Can you imagine clothes that don’t smell like a Caribbean day’s sweat? ¿Eso será algo ricismo, no?”
What we mostly worried about was bathing. Eight people needed to bathe that night. Mom, Dad, three daughters, a son, a baby and (of course) the American.
The water hadn’t arrived in a good amount in almost three weeks.
Think about how many things need water in daily life: dishes, bathing, brushing your teeth, mopping, washing your hands, laundry, etc. And even more is needed if you have a kid. More still if you are dependent on a working in-house hair salon to make sure you family eats.
My Doña worked the neighborhood trying to find anyone that could help us out. The answer came from the woman making empanadas.
She had access to water in an underground cistern that belonged to a doctor’s house that is currently for sale. (Yeah, complicated).
The cistern is about three blocks from the house.
Everyone grabbed a bucket and started walking.
Down the street around the corner, fill the bucket, free hand out for balance, walk.
Men carried two.
It was around 8 p.m., so the neighborhood in its entirety was outside as daily routine dictates. Before we knew it, others started hauling their own buckets.
When empanada lady (a sizeable woman who could probably wield a battle-axe as well as she rolls dough) caught wind of what was happening, she stomped out to supervise. She reminded the entire world that she, too, could run out of water and that permission had only been granted to a few.
Yet, she allowed everyone to keep dunking their buckets. I guess 1. because it wasn’t really her water and 2. it’s WATER! How can you deny your neighbor the right to clean water? She must have known that at some point she would need a similar favor and cut her losses. Smart lady.
An hour y pico later, we had enough water to get us through the next couple of days.
Five days later the water started to come. Apparently and ENTIRE tree branch had clogged one of the pipes.
It flowed Willy Wonka brown for a good hour before running crystal clear.
Me and the girls danced and jigged around the house saying, “AGUA! AGUA!”
My Doña filled everything from empty milk gallons to small bowls to large trash cans. There was no returning to seco for us.