A political crisis, a volcano and extreme drought

It almost seems like we are looking for trouble.

We starting our travel year in Barcelona during the run up to the Catalonia separatist vote, just after the terrorist attacks in August. 2017 was quite a year for the city. Once Madrid declared the vote to be illegal, federal police forces were deployed to the region, in an attempt to physically stop the vote. Of course that didn’t end well. There was all kinds of fall out, including politicians being arrested, others fleeing the country. Then, the separatist parties won a narrow election at the end of the year, taking away any hope by Spain to see an end to the crisis. On it goes.

Our families and friends sent us messages and emails during the height of the crisis in Barcelona when the international media chose to cover the violent skirmishes between federal police and residents trying to vote. While there were unfortunate incidents, by and large the day was peaceful. Instead of choosing to remain impartial and report on what truly happened, the coverage made it seem like Barcelona was under siege. Loved ones feared for our safety. It was not like that.

Then it was our turn to misinterpret the news. When the airport closed in Denpasar due to volcanic ash from the volcano at Mt. Agung, we were led to believe the worst. We sent messages to our contacts in Bali asking what was going on, was it safe? Was the air choked with ash? Did we need gas masks? They must have thought we were crazy.

What the media failed to report was that the prevailing wind in the region was turned the wrong direction by a cyclone. So even though there was indeed volcanic activity on the island, the ash was having no effect on the tourist areas in the South, some 70km from the eruption, at ground level. There was an evacuation zone around the mountain, but even the people in that region had not fully heeded the warning. After 4 days, the airport reopened and life went on in Bali. Or so one would think. Unfortunately for the businesses on the island which cater to the tourists, the international coverage of the event scared too many people away. Life did not return to normal for them.

In early February, we will head down to Cape Town, South Africa. Straight into a severe drought. In truth, we didn’t realize how bad the situation was until after we were booked and committed. This was a last-minute decision. We had not done the research ahead of time. The problem with water is not new. This has been building for years. Sigh. 

In this case, we hope the warnings of the region ‘running out of water’ are exaggerated. We have been in contact with our airbnb hosts and they confirm the situation is bad, so much so that predictions are by April, residents will have to queue up for water rations. Airbnb has sent us a notification that we are heading into a drought region and we need to follow all restrictions. Nice, they don’t send you that warning when you are looking at properties. At that point in the process they make it seem like you better book immediately or risk not getting a rental at all.

The only way to look at this is with an attitude of gratitude. While Cape Town may have beat out Vancouver as the most popular place with tourists for the past 5 years, we will go back to normal in our Northern rainforest. No lack of water there. If we end up having to line up to get water rations, it will be another lesson in what life is like for other people on this planet of ours. Here we are in SE Asia in the rainy season where there is so much water it is ridiculous. And on the other hand, South Africa has nowhere near enough water. 

The upside is, my son is going to have to learn how to take a short shower. A camp shower. Or maybe even clean himself with a bucket….which has been a reported solution. 87 litres of water per person per day is the recommendation in order to get Cape Town’s daily usage down to 500 million litres. Check out this video for what 87 litres a day looks like:

If you look at the comments on this video, or if you do some research, evidently the situation did not have to get this dire. The desalination efforts did not begin soon enough and projects are not finished yet, with day zero set for 3 months out. Drilling for alternate underground sources has not been accomplished and the national government did not divert usage for agriculture when they had a chance to do so. So again, the complete picture of what is really going on is not clear. But, in this case it doesn’t really matter what happened, because the city will face a terrible situation if the solutions do not come online in time.

Did I say 87 litres? Scratch that. As of February 1st the limits are lowered to 50L per person per day. And the day that service to homes is scheduled to be cut off has moved up another week. I was informed that our rental is designated as a 6 person home, so we get an extra 100L per day. There are low flow regulators on all the water supplies and buckets to collect shower water for flushing toilets.

It is going to be another interesting situation to live in. I think we can meet the challenge of using less water, it will be like camping, back home.

  • We are already brushing our teeth with a cup of water and have been doing that since we arrived in Asia.
  • We wash our clothes sparingly and we don’t really have many to begin with.
  • Our rental does not have a washer, so we will use a laundromat.
  • Towels and sheets will only be washed once per week, just like back home.
  • For the toilet – there is a saying, ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down’.
  • As for washing your hands, we keep a basin of water for that.
  • When we wash dishes, one small sink of water with soap another small sink for rinsing and then dry them by hand.
  • Despite what my son seems to think about showers, a one minute version is possible.  

Which gets me to thinking about camping. Every time we go camping it rains for the whole trip. My husband always makes his first task to set-up an elaborate system of tarps to protect us from the deluge and the resulting mud wash through our campsite. He joked that maybe we go camping while we are in Cape Town and our luck will bring the rain. 

Join me in this creative journey. I think it will be worth your time. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com

Published books:
: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power

Our travel year:
: : Have you ever heard of a digital nomad family? A Dad working in Europe and Asia, Teens doing distance education for grades 11 and 9, and Mom keeping it all together, writing, taking photos and making videos.
: : Check out all the adventure, captured in weekly videos on a youtube channel called creative wandering.

Would you like a free download of….
: : My tried and true packing list, developed from long-term, around the world travel and….
: : The first chapter from Fruitless at 40?
: : Join us!

Latest survey:
: : What would an epic creative retreat look like for you?

Daily Creatives Resources:
: : My heroine’s journey, a road less travelled
: : Detourism and other new word suggestions
: : It took me a year to find freedom, a love story
: : Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai

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