Monday, 26 May 2014

How to get water in Lithuania

It had already been difficult to find an accessible water tap in Poland but it became downright impossible in Lithuania. All my usual tricks failed: no water taps in cemeteries, gas stations, in gardens or public water fountains - nothing! Even public toilets are "dry". Once I saw a water tap at the side of a house and was immediately spotted by a friendly house wife who called her husband - not to chase me away, but to explain that this tap water was not for drinking.

I became so desperate that I started to buy water in 5 litre plastic bottles in supermarkets. They are cheap (only about 0,60 €), but I disliked the idea of creating so much trash.

 The solution of the water mystery dawned on me when I spotted a well in a church yard. First I thought it was decoration but it had a brand new bucket attached and looked altogether very new. There was even a small metal drinking cup. I tried my luck and got some very nice water. Continuing my trip I now realised that in the countryside almost every house had one of those wells in the garden. And not only houses - even some cemeteries have wells. I tried not to think too much about the potability of cemetery ground water when I replenished my bottles there. But the problem was solved: Lithuanian villages are not on the grid. There is electricity, but no water system.

So here is how to get water: Look for a house with a little well building. It is best when the well looks used, that means when you can see a bucket or plastic containers in front of it. Now very important: check if there is a dog and if it is on a chain. When approaching the house now the dog (and/or the neighbors dog) will start barking frantically which in turn will make the lady of the house appear. Now wave your water bottles, say "water, Wasser, woda" and point at the well. You will easily get permission and now you only have to operate the well. Open the wooden door and hook the bucket onto the chain or rope if it is not already attached. Now lower the bucket into the well. The bucket will have a weight attached at the handle so that it cannot float in the water. Once the bucket has hit the water bring it up again by using the whinge at the side of the well. Now comes the best moment. Take the little water cup and scoop some water out of the bucket to try it: it is deliciously cold and fresh!

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