Tuesday, September 26, 2017
the infernal city
On one of my recent forays north, I thumbed through a stack of photographs from my last visit to Rome.
Everything was there that makes Rome Rome. Piazzas. Sunshine. Fountains.
It occurred to me that I do not need to fly to Rome to experience the Roman experience. I have it right here in Barra de Navidad.
Through my screen, I can see the eyes rolling now. Sun? Certainly. Piazzas? To a degree. But, Steve, fountains? Really?
For those who doubt our little tourist village has fountains, just wait until it rains. Admittedly, it takes a heavy rain. Like the ones we have had over the past two weeks. But fountains we have.
Some of our infrastructure here is a bit dodgy. Including the sewers. During the best of times (when the pumps are running and the sand has been dredged out of the pipes and it is not raining and visitors do not clog the pipes with wads of toilet paper flushed down the toilet), our sewers work. Most of the time.
But, change any of those circumstances, and we have trouble.
Not that it matters in practice, but we have two separate sewer systems in Barra de Navidad. One serves the housing development known as the fraccioniamento. That system is supposed to be run by a now-moribund housing association. It works through voluntary fees and volunteer help.
The rest of Barra, including my house in the barrio, is served by a sewer system operated by the county.
I say that the division does not matter in practice because both systems feed into one another. When one has a problem, so does the other.
And those problems are most visible during heavy rains. We do not have a division between storm and sewage systems. Most of the rain water attempts to drain into the sewage system -- until it is overwhelmed.
That is when we get our fountains. Water burbles up through the manholes. Water that is a mixture of rain and sewage. And when it burbles, the only-slightly diluted sewage water runs down our streets toward the lagoon.
At least 24 hours after the rain stopped, the manholes were still geysering.
Then the sun came out. The combination of the heat and the pervasive methane made me wonder if I had started with the wrong analogy. Barra is far more Venice -- with its canals and smells -- than it is Rome.
And what is being done about it? For about thirty years, the local politicians have been kicking the can down the road -- much as did the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations with North Korea. The good news is that our sewer system will not result in a nuclear explosion. I hope.
No hay remedio seems to be our sewage motto.
If so, we can enjoy the beauty of our small Trevis.