The water incident

So traveling has (for the most part) been pretty fun, but this is a story about when something went wrong. On Wednesday afternoon, the main water line servicing Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki) burst. There might be some outlying areas that still have water, but the vast majority of the city’s 1 million inhabitants had no running water. Since I happened to be in the city at the time, that number included me.

One of the friends I made at the hostel happened to be showering at the time (or maybe slightly after). He’d just managed to get soaped up when the water in the tank (of the water heater) ran out. He turned the water off and back on again after waiting a few seconds and was able to get just enough water to rinse [mostly] off, but he still had that slightly grungy feeling.

For the first few hours, this water problem was kind of fun. “Ha ha, there’s not water. This is interesting trying to find ways to do all that stuff we take for granted….” But after a while, it started to get really annoying.

Want some water to drink? Go to a store and buy some bottled water. Want to take a shower? That’s just not going to happen; you’re doomed to stink. Want to use the bathroom? After the first couple flushes, there’s no more water in the tank. Hello stinky bathrooms.

This was particularly acute when I needed to take a dump. I had to pour 3 liters of water into the tank for one flush. Fortunately, that was enough to prevent the entire bathroom from becoming a bio hazard zone. There’s a limit to how many times I can do that though. Bottled water is cheap, but not that cheap. Plus, it took a lot more preparation than the usual just finding a toilet.

On Friday during the day, the water was back just long enough to take a shower which was amazing! I couldn’t do laundry though.

It’s effected a lot of the restaurants too. There are quite a few things they can’t make without running water so business has dropped off a bit. I’m surprised they’re getting as much business as they are.

I started writing this thinking it would be over soon, but now it’s Sunday. I woke up to find a shitload of empty water bottles from people trying to clean themselves. I don’t want to go out because I’d get sweaty, and won’t have a way to wash the stink off. This city was clearly designed around the assumption that water would be readily available.

It’s amazing the things we take for granted, and how such a simple thing can change everything. Before this incident, I was on the fence about leaving this city; it’s actually really nice here most of the time. Now I catch myself dreaming of my next destination where I won’t have to constantly worry about the water situation.

I hope the rest of you are having a great day, and can bathe yourselves whenever you wish. Until next time….

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