We’re out of water.

Some of you are thinking, “Well, duh, you’re in the Sahara. You know, desert?” But I live in the capital city, and we’re on city water. The water comes from groundwater supplies deep underground, centuries old, pure at the source but not so pure by the time it’s come through the local pipes, which while not perhaps centuries old, still contain the dust and contamination and creepy-crawlies of the decades.

Running out of water is part of life here. Sometimes there just isn’t enough for everyone, so parts of the city don’t get water. In our old house, we were once without city water for 7 months. We had to buy our water by truck. The truck would come and fill up our reservoir, under the garage. In the poorer parts of town, where families share compounds with other families and don’t have their own reservoirs, you can have your water brought by donkey cart, and you fill up a big container called a bidon.

Donn had told me I needed to prime the suppressor, which is this big red ball-shaped thing that I guess works like a pump. It gets the water from the cistern into the house, so that when the electricity is out, we don’t have water either. I went out and looked at it, while I was talking to a nearby friend on the phone. She volunteered her husband to come by and prime the suppressor for me. (YAAY! Helpless Woman Wins Again and doesn’t have to do nasty jobs like changing flat tire or changing heavy and dangerous gas bottle in kitchen.)

Todd showed up after dinner. We went out to the garage and lugged the cement lid off the reservoir. He shone a flashlight into the depths, pointing out the 2 inches of water in the corners, the uneven middle already drying out. “You guys are out of water!” he announced. “Yep!” I commented morosely.

In addition to our lack of water, he pointed out a large root protruding through the wall of the reservoir. Apparently it was blocking the pipe to the suppressor, which wasn’t helping the situation. Next thing I knew he was taking off his sandals, rolling up his pant legs, and lowering himself into the depths. “Got a bucket?” came his muffled voice.

I went into the house and announced, “Mr. Todd is in our reservoir!” All 3 kids rushed out in excitement. I came back out with a bucket and cup to collect water with, and he soon had the root out.

Then came time to prime the suppressor. No one could get the big bolt to turn, even with WD-40. So off came the big red ball. Murky brown water, from the taps to the house, gurgled up. Todd needed more. He wanted to lower Abel into the cistern, and at first Abel was willing, but as he looked in that dark black hole he lost his nerve. “What if there’s rats?” So Ilsa, who won’t go upstairs alone after dark ever, no matter the enticements from me or the threats or taunts from her brothers, volunteered. She held up her arms and Todd lowered her down. No sooner was she down there, reporting, “This is fun! Cool! Ooh, what’s that?” then Abel wanted to go down too. Soon I was looking at their two little faces peering up at me through the black square hole. How I wish I had a camera! It was deep enough for them to stand comfortably and peer around. Elliot held the flashlight, and for once didn’t tease them by turning it off.

They scooped water into the bucket which was placed under the pipe, and watched the level in the bucket when Todd turned on the suppressor to see if it was working properly. They splashed around, explored corners, picked up rocks. Soon it was time to be pulled up, with the last bucket of water so that I could do tonight’s dishes.

We still have no water, and I had to go buy bottled water for teeth-brushing and drinks. But at least now, when it comes (Please God let it be tonight!!), the suppressor is ready.

Edited to Add:  We DID get some water in last night! With great thankfulness we flushed toilets and took showers this morning. I’m holding off on the laundry though, and hoping to get more water soon. Alhumdu’dillah! as they say round here. (Means Praise God! in Arabic)