It was a long weekend. And it was too short.
We worked so hard to get there: so hopeful at the respite those two days might bring.
Unfortunately, it brought more than we anticipated.
The government has had our water turned off for over a week now, and our reserves were all running dry. I had piles and piles of laundry and dishes stacked everywhere inviting bugs to invade. We started showering up at our office where the reserve tank is huge. Unfortunately, other people had similar ideas, and the office ran out of water on Friday afternoon. Our ability to even flush the toilet was gone sometime Friday as well, and we decided we’d try our well.
Thankfully, we did put a pump into the well a few months back so that the neighbors would have water for the garden. This allowed us to fill up our tank and resume showers, laundry, and using the restroom.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the cleanest water around. You could see through it–most of the time, at least–but it was a distinct brownish-yellow color and smelled less than fresh. Let’s just say you couldn’t actually tell if you flushed the toilet or not.
Either way, when you need water, you need water. We just added a bit of bleach and made do.
At this point, our water pump was still raised and not working properly, and our air conditioner was disconnected and thus not working. And then on Saturday, our electricity started acting up. Not all of it, but one particular circuit that included lights in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, community space, and outside; plus three random outlets. The breaker flipped while I was in the shower Saturday afternoon. I finished showering in the dark, flipped the breaker, and we figured it was just a fluke, right?
Not so much. It flipped again an hour or so later, and another after that. The next morning, it was flipped again. And on Sunday, it continued to flip off with anything running–one light, one fan, one internet modem. So we unplugged everything and turned it all off. And it flipped again, this time with sparks and smoke.
And now we’ve just left it off. After so many sparks above your head and smoke in your house, lights become less important. We have lights in two rooms and a few outlets working.
Meanwhile, the landlord calls some men to come fix the air conditioner, and they arrive on Sunday morning. They take it all apart and go to clean it. They try the lights, we have to explain they don’t work. They look at the brown water and make a face: why isn’t it clean? We explain we don’t have government water and have been using the well. They go to the well and make a face: why does it smell?
I wanted to scream. Yes, we know the water is brown. We know the water smells. We know the electricity doesn’t work. And while I’m sure this is difficult for you to do your work, it is also difficult to live in, wash your clothes in, and shower in. We get it.
Also during this time, our landlord was stopping in and out of our house in a towel. Though we aren’t quite sure why, it appeared that she heard them say we have water and wanted to come shower, but then saw how brown the water was and changed her mind.
And still meanwhile, we learned that the landlord has moved into the home just next door. They can’t seem to rent it, so she is filling it. She spent most of the weekend frustrated with our neighbors. She is upset about the garden for some reason, and came chopping down leaves and plants; she was upset about the noise the kids were making, the way they shut the door, the way the door sounded from her house, the places they sat.
I don’t know how quite to describe it, other than to say that seeing the relationships play out has been very difficult. It is very hard to try to make friendships when there are four languages at play, two of which have very distinct “levels” in their language. It is difficult to create friendships that aren’t lording when that is the nature and attitude of the surroundings.
So, we our home is less home-like than it has been in the past. Our favorite things, the community being in our home and making us laugh and being a part of our lives, is not being so warmly received and putting us in very odd American-Thai-Burmese situations.
And it’s Monday again.