We talk about conservation in the US in our efforts to go green and be responsible global citizens. When I’m home, I scold my sister for taking 30 minute showers, and I give the evil eye when people leave lights on for no reason. Still, I had never really gained the appreciation that I now have for electricity and water until I arrived in Anguilla.
The first couple of weeks after our arrival, electricity was exceptionally erratic. We were assured that this was not commonplace, but lights would flicker and die throughout the day without apparent cause. I had to forgo my morning shower when I woke up to no electricity (which meant no running water since the pump wouldn’t work) and scrambled to get my work done with the little charge I had left on my laptop.
This morning, I learned a new lesson about scarcity and island life: life becomes a bit tougher when your cistern runs out of water. In developed countries, you turn on a faucet and water flows out of it. We accept this as a standard and don’t really think about it. If we want to shower, brush our teeth, or wash our dishes, we turn on a tap and we’re ready to rock.
When your water comes from a cistern, this is an entirely different case. After my morning shower, I went to brush my teeth only to see brown (yes, brown) water sputter out of the tap. I turned the tap on again, happy to see that the water was running clear, though not very abundant. Verdict: we were at the bottom of the cistern; water was to be used sparingly until extra water could be trucked in. In the house we’re going to move into there is a direct connection to government water. If our cistern runs out, we can turn on the line to the government water, pay a premium for the H2O and move along as per usual. This time, we had to call for 2,000 gallons of extra water to refill the cistern. I’m still uncertain as to how much this little endeavor costs, but from what I understand water is not a cheap resource.
Talk about understanding the value of conservation, right?