The Year of Water

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Gerry and I decided to take a trip in the middle of winter to Vancouver Island. We have a 23-foot motorhome. It’s warm, cozy and has everything we need – furnace, heated water tank, flush toilet etc.   I said to my self as long as we are warm what does it matter if it’s cold outside.

This trip turned out to be a series of lessons on how we rely and frankly take for granted water.

Lesson #1 – After a lovely evening visiting with family, we drove back to our campsite. Hooked up the RV. Made a hot cup of tea. Plugged our little electric heater in and went to bed. The next morning, Gerry bounced out of bed and went to make coffee. Guess what?

No water, during the night our water line had frozen. He informed me that I had to use the campground restroom. Yuck! As I was walking to the restrooms, I noticed that the RV Park was full. It was the holiday season. More pointedly, I noticed that every single RV had something wrapped around their outside water lines – Heat tape, I was told later. It keeps the water lines from the tap to the RV warm. My simple learning moment was that water freezes. What a concept. Freezing of water can sometimes be damn inconvenient.

Lesson #2 – Part of our New Years adventure was to continue the tradition of spending it with good friends. We stayed at Sarah and Matt’s house that night. We were glad to spend the night inside. I was even happier to have a hot bath after the previous night’s experience. Sue has one of those huge Jacuzzi tubs with the jets and fancy shower heads. It’s deep and I filled it to the brim. As I leisurely got out of the tub, I looked down and noticed the entire bathroom floor was flooded with water. Instantly, there was pounding on the door.

“Jan there is water dripping from the dining room ceiling,”  Gerry yelled.

I opened the door with only a towel wrapped around me. Matt and Gerry rushed in and started to mop up water. I’m thinking, “What did I do? “ Here I am a guest in my good friend’s home and I caused severe damage to her 1908 custom heritage house.    As the guys checked things out they turned off the water in the entire house. They decided that some pipes must have burst from under the tub.   Needless to say, I felt that I had brought my bad water curse to my dear friend.

We had our breakfast standing in the kitchen because the dining room was full of bowls collecting dripping water from the dining room ceiling.   HAPPY NEW YEAR MY DEAR FRIEND SARA!   This experience taught me that an everyday occurrence of a bath could have some catastrophic effects. Water is unpredictable!

Lesson #3 – With many apologies we said goodbye to our good friends and headed up Island to Duncan. This night we were going to stay with Gerry’s sister Sue. She had an extra parking pad in her mobile home park for our RV. We could hook up to her power and water and be cozy and comfy once again. As always, I was inside her warm home while my husband was setting up camp. When he went to hook up the water hose to the house. Nothing came out. Guess what? It was frozen at the tap. Oh well, at least we have water inside our unit. As we were getting ready for bed that night, Gerry told me that he did not fill the water tanks in the RV because he was afraid it might have been damaged due to the cold.   He recommended that we use a bucket of water from the house so we can self-flush the toilet.

So I asked, “ You are telling me that we have to spend the night using a bucket of water? “
“Yes,” he said. “ And we have to borrow a bucket from Sue because we don’t have one”.   Thankfully, we spent the night with not much issue with our bucket of water in the bathroom.   So what is lesson 3?  ALWAYS CARRY A BUCKET WHEN YOU TRAVELWATER NEEDS A CONTAINER

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A few days later, as we were watching TV from the comfort of our living room a UNICEF commercial came on. It caught my attention because they were asking for money to build a well in some distant village in Africa.   I saw several African women, children, and men line up with their jugs to get water. The commentator declared that every day in rural communities and poor urban centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of millions of people suffer from a lack of access to clean, safe water.

He went out to say that women and girls especially bear the burden of walking miles at a time to gather water from streams and ponds – full of water-borne disease that is making them and their families sick.

Illness from drinking dirty water and the time lost fetching it robs entire communities of their futures. Hope is put on hold in over half of the developing world’s primary schools without access to water and sanitation.

For only $1.00 a day you can help a family of 6 get fresh, clean water. Give today… You get the idea.

This 30-second commercial caused me to stop and pause. My water troubles were so insignificant.

Over the last few weeks, I have been ranting and raving about my “water cursed” vacation to anyone and everyone who would listen. Did I ever go thirsty?   Was I ever sick from drinking dirty water? Did I go into a coma because I couldn’t have a shower?

I have come to the conclusion that water is indeed taken for granted. You know the saying “ You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

However, my little inconveniences are absolutely nothing compared to what other people have to endure day in and day out as they struggle to get a jug of clean water.

The next time you have a glass of cool water… Pause …Ponder, and take a minute to be grateful.

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