This morning I woke up to find out the water was being shut off soon. Luckily I live in the Centro Storico (historic center) of town, which is downhill, so had time to run around filling up the tub and all sorts of pots and bottles with water. We will probably only be senz’ acqua (without water) until this evening, or let’s hope so anyways. I was reminded of something I wrote exactly 2 years ago tomorrow, when we senz’ acqua for almost 4 days:
Senz’ acqua, Agosto 2013
On Friday a truck from the comune (co•MOO•neh) or city hall, went around announcing that at 5pm the water would be turned off. They didn’t say for how long, but everyone filled up their pails, bottles, and bathtubs anyways, assuming the water would be back on by the next morning.
It turns out there was a ‘guasto’ (GWAH•stoh)-a water main break that was more serious than originally thought. It was between Troia and Foggia, about 40 minutes away. Now it was starting to sound like we would be senz’ acqua for 2-3 days!
The next day, the temperature was 38° C. The population of Orsara was increased by about 1,000 because of families visiting, the Festa del Jazz, people living in Foggia coming for the weekend to escape the heat and the Festa della Madonna della Neve coming up. I was taking bottles to fill up at one of the fontane (fountains) so we could wash dishes and flush the toilet, when I heard there was an autobotto (water truck) at Ponte Capò. By the time I got there it had moved to La Benzina (the gas station) and was going to San Rocco. I was out of breath when I finally managed to find the autobotto and fill up my 3L bottles. I brought them home and then heard that Acquedotto Pugliese was giving out rations of 4L bags of water. Mannaggia what a scene it was. The vecchietta (old lady) in front of me said ‘ma vieni di nuova la Guerra!’, the war has come back again! The man behind me had 10 family members from France staying with him and was trying to get extra. It started to get kind of ugly, but they ran out of water anyways. We carried out water bags home and arrived ‘in un bagno di acqua’-bathed in sweat. It was stinking hot and 6L of water gets heavy when you have to carry it up a steep old stone stairway.
This reminded me of when I used to come to Orsara di Puglia as a child/ teenager. In an effort to conserve water in the hot summer months, it was only available from 8am until noon, then shut off until the next morning. Laundry, showers and washing hair all had to be done before noon. This was a common practice in Southern Italian towns in the 1980’s. I’m not sure it actually saved any water because every household would fill up their tub and every imaginable jug and container with water before it was shut off.
At 5pm the TV went off, which seemed odd, so I tried the lights and they didn’t work. I heard someone outside yell ‘Ma no! Anche la corrente no!’-‘but no! Not the electricity too!’ Mamma and I ran around looking for the flashlight and candles for later. No running water and no power! The neighbours packed up and went back to Foggia. Luckily the power was only off for an hour so at least we were only lacking 1 utility.
Water in the tub or from the fountains is used for washing then toilet flushing. Dishwashing water is also later used to flush the toilet. Acquedotto Pugliese 4L bags are only for cooking and washing food. Bottled water is for drinking. It’s amazing the simple things that we take for granted today. Have you ever thought about how you would manage if you were ‘senz’ acqua’ for 3 days? In many parts of the world, people still don’t have electricity and running water in their homes. Take a few minutes and think about how you would survive this ‘medieval camping’ situation.