Sunday, September 17, 2017

Water from where?

Apparently, our tap water (and shower water and toilet water) comes straight from the nearby river. Someone just told us the good news.
Rice paddies upriver
We know that river. It runs through dairy farms, crop fields, and villages on its way into the city. It stinks when you walk next to it because people dump everything into it. Everything.
A bridge over troubled waters
Now I know why, when I ran a bath in our portable tub a few weeks ago, the water was greenish. I sat in it anyway. I was desperate to read a textbook that had my eyes glazing over in minutes, sitting at my desk.

PVC pipes are strung along the walls of neighborhoods, and I guess they bring the water directly in. Other open-ended pipes poke through retaining walls, draining water from home sinks and showers right back into the streams.

Sometimes the water smells musty; sometimes it smells of other things. A while back, a friend of ours got amoebic dysentery when he brushed his teeth in the shower. Yeah, that was a bad idea. Even locals buy drinking water.

Most weekends (Friday through Sunday, and sometimes during the week,) there's not enough water pressure to have a shower. At least five new highrises were built on the hill in the past two years, and as many new restaurants. But our infrastructure is the same.
Wash vegetables at the sink. Then rinse them well with filtered drinking water. And you're seeing correctly, that's a bit of garden hose attached to an outdoor faucet - at the "dirty kitchen" in the house. The previous tenants took their faucets with them. We've replaced most of them, but a few are still in "original" move-in condition. (Another fact of life: that back room is open to the sky and wind - anything fried is made there since no kitchen stove has a fan to whisk away grease.)
We often walk along the river
This morning, I open the kitchen taps (gravity fed from algae-crusted roof-top tanks), toss an electric heating coil into the basin as it fills, and wait for it to warm up. (Oh yeah, we have to get someone to go into the tanks to scrub them clean. We're too bulky to fit in.)

Every traditional bathroom has a pail of water beside the toilet. A plastic dipper is used to scoop up water for sanitation after using the toilet. Most people don't use toilet paper. (That's also why you never use your left hand to pass things to others or bring food to your mouth.)

We have a few dippers lying around, relics from the people who used to live here. Our helper fills one to rinse the shower once a week. After a few years of rinsing, I figure the dipper is pretty clean. Today, I use it to splash water on myself in the shower. Do I feel cleaner? Maybe.
Irrigation, drainage, you name it ...
The house looks quite modern and sturdy. When people come to visit (esp. our Western guests), they think we are living beyond our means. "We could never afford the 40-year-old stone tile flooring in the USA." They're right. We couldn't either.

And then they try to shower. "There was no hot water today because the pressure was low. I feel kind of stinky without a shower," or better still, "We have no water at all." Yeah. We know.

The basics are sometimes a challenge. For example, we bought a dozen dining chairs from a local commercial shop with an excellent reputation. W and I both liked the look of them. They were narrow enough to seat 12 around our table, and that they were half price at Informa's annual clearance sale.

After a few months, the piping began peeling from the seat and the back. The manufacturer apparently used material that disintegrates in the heat and humidity. No returns permitted, of course.

"Oh well," we have to shrug. Such surprises are par for the course. I sewed slipcovers last month to prevent further damage. The canvas covers are made from a huge painter's dropcloth (bought ages ago at a USA hardware story).

Truth be told, Indonesia has been good for us. It's reminded us that life is not about appearances. It's about reality. About people, living with us side by side, life on life, day by day.

Being here is wonderful. And crazy. And interesting. If you're particular or a perfectionist, you would soon be in a madhouse. But if you don't mind an unexpected event or two every day and something new every morning (in addition to the blessings of God), this is a wonderful place to be.
Regional delights: a wild banana tree in bloom
Locals seem taken aback when we say we like it here. "Isn't it a step backward? We want to go to the West and leave here." "But it takes so long to get anything done!" and, "Don't you mind the garbage?"

yes yes yes. Our experienced expat friends warned us when we moved here: "Don't compare this to that. Just live in the day or it will kill you." Their counsel has been spot-on. Time after time.

Yet when you know you're supposed to be here, you love it. Ask anyone who's been in our shoes.

Read more:
*Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits. Psalm 103:2
I will praise God’s word, I will praise the Lord’s word. Psalm 46:10 NKJV
Jesus says, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63
Moravian Prayer: Lord, you are great and you created all things. May we always remember your goodness and keep your spirit in our hearts. Amen.

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