I cannot leave the long-running water saga out of my posts from the archives! If anyone had told me, before I moved to Sicily, what an issue water would be, I would probably never have come. It is not the problem it used to be, as for the past two years we've had water from underground pipes instead of having to have a cistern filled every week or so but every now and then, particularly in summer, there is a morning when I turn the tap on to find...... nothing. Believe me, I never waste water now!
Here is an early post from an August when we not only ran out of water in the condominio, but had a cistern leak too, so that when the tank was refilled we lost it all. This was no joke in a temperature of 40°, as you may imagine.
ACQUA LONTANA... 16th August 2006
"Acqua lontana non spegne il fuoco"
[Italian proverb = "Far-away water won't put out the fire".]
This proverb has a figurative meaning but I am taking it literally and personally at the moment.The water saga continues and yesterday I had a veritable army of men here trying to sort out the situation.
I heard the plumber hammering away in the cistern area early yesterday morning but he left after an hour and I didn't get a chance to speak to him. So I didn't know if he had gone off to get something, was coming back or had given up till after today's bank holiday. No one else was in for me to ask.
In desperation, facing a sixth day without running water, I reluctantly called the owner of this flat, then, there being no reply, her husband, who happens to be a plumber. ["Why didn't you call him in the first place?", I hear you ask. Because there is a hierarchy regarding who makes these calls here, because I didn't want to disturb the family at holiday time and because the man upstairs had already called in a plumber.] Eventually, through a friend, I tracked down Luigi the husband at the sea and he very kindly said he would come at 3pm., which he did. Luckily, just as he arrived, the man on the first floor and the one on the fourth floor came back, so they were able to explain to Luigi the technical stuff about what the other plumber had, and had not, been able to do.
Luigi then explained to me that he could probably get the system working again, but not before yet another water lorry arrived [as the supply had already leaked out]. I knew that one of the neighbours had requested another tank from the Comune, but, it being nearly 4pm by then, Luigi said that he "knew a man who knew a man" who could get a private water carrier to come straightaway, probably. The first floor man and I agreed that this would be best [the other tenant having had to rush back to work] so Luigi phoned "the man who knew.." and, sure enough, within ten minutes we heard a chug-chug-chug up the street and the private water carrier appeared, followed by Luigi and the "man who knew a man". The lorry driver put loads of water into the cistern, shook hands with us and wished us all a buon Ferragosto [Happy 15th August holiday] and, no sooner had he reversed out and chug-chug-chugged down the road, than we heard the chug-chug-chug up the road of the Comune lorry! Well, we weren't going to refuse another fill-up, given the circumstances, and, although the Comune lorry driver did not seem happy at first, having seen the other lorry go, when we explained everything to him he fairly happily siphoned another tankful in. By this time, of course, we were providing great entertainment to all the people hereabouts who had not gone away for the season; they were all out on their balconies watching, wondering, no doubt, why we were receiving our fifth lorry-load of water in six days, and making the pazienza gesture [throwing your hands up in the air] whenever any of us looked up.
Simi dog and I were worn out by the end of it as the water did not come back on immediately after the fill-ups, oh, no! Something was still wrong down there and we had to go up and down god knows how many times and shout, "C'è acqua!" ["There's water!"] or "Non c'è acqua!" ["There's no water!"] from the balconies as the men tested the thingamajigs in the cistern cupboard.
Eventually, there was water and I'd never realised before what a lovely sound water gushing from a tap can be! Do you think my problems were over at that moment, though? Not on your nonna's nelly! At this stage, we learned that someone had left a tap on in the block. [I can quite understand how this had happened, as when you are always testing to see if water comes out, you reach a point where you can't remember whether the tap is on or off.] So the man downstairs said he'd have to turn the water off again to avoid a flood if the other tenant didn't come back soon. Then my friend Linda and her family whisked me off to their house for supper, as they had surmised, correctly, that I needed to get away from the situation. I was so relieved, on returning, to see all the tenants' cars in the parking space and to find the water still on when I came upstairs!
Tomorrow the first plumber is coming again - I think to replace the original pump that broke - and soon we are to have a meeting regarding exactly who will do what when "non c' è acqua"!
Update - 2016: We never did have that meeting. That would have been planning ahead, which is too much like tempting fate. Although there are less problems now, I still keep a supply of filled bidoni - just in case.