March 12, 2006

Rain or Water

Water on Bliss Street. Water on the streets of Beirut does not necessarily mean it has been raining. And since today was a bright and hot sunny day, it is most definitely not rain. Water on the streets means that the government water has come. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East that does not experience a water shortage, yet water comes only a couple times per week. During the war it didn’t come at all, so you had to buy water from street sellers that would drive around in small pick up trucks with water tanks on the back. On the truck was also a small generator because Beirut is all apartment building and water has to be pumped up. I can’t remember the price of water, but it wasn’t much. So when there would be government water but no government electricity, you still wouldn’t get the water to in your apartment because there is virtually no pressure on the system. And this wasn’t drinking water, so for drinking water you had to get either bottled water, which could be quite expensive if you have a big family, or you go into the mountains with plastic containers and fill up at road side springs.
These days the government does provide water, but it still is not drinkable, and comes irregular. Most people have covered that problem by installing tanks on rooftops that they fill up when water comes, and that will last them for a week or so. So there are miles and miles of home-made plumbing systems in this town that seep off from the regular government system into tanks all over the place. Needless to say, this leaks like nothing else. So when the government opens the tab to supply a certain neighborhood, the roads flood as well.
Notice the creative parking. This is a two lane street with parking on one side. It’s quite popular at night since it serves all kinds of exotic cocktails (alcohol free though). So at night they triple park, and use the side walk as well.

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