Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Update to our ditch upgrade

Soon after the completion of the ditch upgrade, a manager of the project stopped by to speak to us. He explained that they would be ripping up our driveway to place a new wider culvert underneath. I immediately worried we would be stuck either in or out of our driveway since I know that government workers here don’t tend to be in a hurry to complete their work. The manager assured us they would be completed in one day.

The following week they started work (on a Monday). They seemed to work quickly and I thought they may actually finish in a day. Every time we wanted to leave or enter the driveway, the crew would move all their equipment to make room for us. They did have the tube placed in a day (Tuesday) but the entire project took four days.

The very first day, they dug some big holes and severed our water line. Water sprayed everywhere. I kept waiting for them to fix the leak but no one seemed to care. I managed to calm down since we still had running water and we determined the leak was not affecting our water meter so the city was taking a beating but we weren’t paying. They actually left the cut line as is, over night. Something else I found odd was that this was not a pipe like I would expect to see in the States but a black plastic tube about 1 ½ inches wide.

Tuesday morning I watched as a couple guys jumped into the hole which had filled ankle deep in water and attempt to stop the leak. I don’t know what they did or if they even fixed the leak, but soon the front end loader brought the cement tube for the new culvert. They had it placed and covered by the end of the day. Wednesday and Thursday they spent connecting the new cement ditch (which I described in an earlier blog) to the new culvert and finishing off the unfinished west side of the culvert using wood forms.

Late Thursday afternoon after picking Azure up at school we noticed we didn’t have any water! The entire crew had already left for the day. We weren’t pleased but the water at the lower level house still worked. We figured they had actually shut off the water at the meter to complete their work and then forgot to turn it back on.

Friday morning none of the crew showed up to the house as usual. We wanted our water turned back on so Patrick walked up the hill to hunt them down figuring they had returned to finish the upper portion of the ditch. Sure enough, he found the crew and explained we had no water. Of course, they didn’t seem surprised! Patrick waited while one of the crew workers called the city water and electric company to report the problem. The crew worker mentioned it was an emergency and then wrote a report number down for Patrick so he would know the city had the problem logged.

We waited all morning and part of the afternoon until we realized no one would be coming to turn the water on. We decided to take the matter into our own hands and go directly to the water company. Unfortunately, it wasn’t located where I thought I had seen the building. We stopped in town to speak to one of the gringos we know thinking we would get directions. He actually had a better solution for us. He described to Patrick how to make a “key” so Patrick would be able to open the cement closure covering our water meter and then turn our water back on by ourselves. He said people here do it all the time. Besides, our water happened to be off by mistake not because we weren’t paying our bill.

Once we arrived back home, Patrick immediately found a piece of rebar he could bend into a “key”. He pulled off the cement piece over the meter and the two of us tested the on/off situation of the meter. Unfortunately again, we determined the meter was on and that our lack of water at the main house must be a severed line. Just our luck. We waited out the rest of Friday and still no one from the water company showed up.

By Saturday, we were all tired of using the lower house to shower and wash dishes. The worst part of the misfortune of having our water turned off occurred in the middle of the night when I had to use the toilet at the lower house. I know we were lucky enough to have any water and I shouldn’t complain but since the city screwed up and should fix the situation I became determined to make them resolve the problem.

At 10am Patrick and I walked next door and asked our neighbors to call the water company for us explaining we had been out of water since Thursday. Vicky called them and after only a few minutes on the phone told us the water company would be right over. Well, we’re in Costa Rica so we knew “right over” meant maybe by Monday. :-)

Fifteen minutes later we were shocked to see a water and electric truck in our driveway! Patrick discussed the work crew and subsequent leak with the lead man and the other two men started to dig. We know they were not happy to be digging at 11am on a Saturday but by noon they had the problem solved and our water restored.

Azure wasn’t completely happy because she arrived at her friend’s party almost an hour late but we had water again and who could complain about that? So, the moral of the story, if you want something done right, ask a woman!


p & k Ashland said...


Funny story; however I don't think I would agree with the woman issue for everything. After all do we really want Hillary to be our President?

Jones Family said...

Hilary doesn't count since she is an alien!