Friday, February 17, 2012

The curiosity of FROZEN water

Apparently, we/Eastern Europe are having the coldest winter in 50 years, just two weeks ago it was at a 20 year low but now we've graduated to 50 years. In the last 30 days, we've had 1 day of running water and that was about 25 days ago. Everything is frozen. We can't thaw water if there is no water to pump and we also can't pump if the water below is frozen solid. Everyday we seem to adapt to a new approach to manage through this beautifully white, insanely cold month. Even the Caspian sea shoreline has started to freeze, which hasn't happened in 20 years.

How we've adapted:

Water - Initially I was going out to fill up our 5 liter bottle at our neighbors spigot with all of the neighbor ladies in the morning but that has now frozen over. It was nice to see the ladies since I hadn't seen many of them since the summer. We also found that at night the men would haul water and Joey got to hang out with all the men as they lined up for water. Since the underground pipes have now completely frozen over, that's what makes it impossible to get new water in our home. We have had some really nice days this week, which has created a lot of slush, but not enough warmth to get the underground pipes thawed out. Now Joey walks about a block and a half to fill our bucket and bottle near our host families home. He really likes the exercise but doesn't care for some of the bad neighbor boys throwing snowballs at him during the process. At most, he only has to do about 3 trips each time. Also our host brother Emin and the sweet neighbor boys like to help him and sometimes even offerup their sled to help ease the water hauling. Luckily we still have this option or we'd have to start paying for water from either the store or from the water truck. (our next back-up plan that we hopefully won't need)
And yes, we are diligent about boiling and filtering our water!

Metal bucket - Joey bought a 10 liter metal bucket so now we haul water easier, and we can heat water directly on the pech. I do laundry in the living room since it's the warmest area and then our chairs turn into clotheslines. It's not a bad system! I have not-mastered my 2 bucket bathes. In temperatures where your bathroom turns to an ice rink as the water hits the floor, it's a highly humbling experience and slippery! We also have a bucket serving as our sink in the kitchen. Even the output pipe froze so we are pouring our sink water down the toilet which also serves as a flushing source and keeps the toilet from completely freezing. See how adaptable and creative we are!
Although this information might sound pretty unpleasant, we know this is short lived. The season will shift and we will thaw. We know this is our last winter living in Azerbaijan. However, are are here now. We are no different from our neighbors as we haul our water, our heat turning low or off at 11pm, but we know this isn't our forever. For these men and women, it's been a lifetime of this type of weather and will be a future challenge as winter brings on frozen pipes and frozen water again. I do wonder about the infrastructure, especially out in the regions and wonder how long it will take for these systems to shift? The answers will come.