After putting the new pipework on two of the terraces, we were chomping at the bit in anticipation of water day. The water came on Saturday. We had expected water day to be on Sunday but upon checking on Saturday morning saw that it was flowing so we needed to change the plans we had already made for the day. You can often hear when the water is running without going to the terrace above to see, but currently the cicadas are drowning out a lot of the sounds. The water we get is diverted to our property manually through an acequia. The acequias were constructed by the Moors centuries ago to channel the water down the mountains and these channels remain to this day. Our water is diverted using a stone, the magic stone (la piedra mágica) as I call it. Once it comes to our property we can either divert it to the terraces to water the land, fill our domestic tank or, if neither of these options are chosen, it goes into a water deposit, an alberca, which we also use to water as and when we want to. It all relies on gravity and pressure. Once the alberca is full it overflows and the water goes off downhill, to join the river in the valley eventually. The purpose of Mark's new pipework was to divert some of the water directly to the plants from the acequia.
|This is what all the excitement is about!|
It was very satisfying to turn the taps and see the water springing from our new pipework. There were leaky joints to tighten, taps to adjust to balance the pressure through the system, lots of climbing up and down the terraces to turn taps on and off, blockages to clear, but all in all the plan has worked out successfully! Following this, we filled our domestic tank and finally watered the terraces below using the alberca (water deposit). It is surprising how time flies when you're having fun and an activity we thought would take a couple of hours actually lasted all day. We think we can get it down to about 4 hours in the future. We didn't notice the heat too much because there was lots of getting hands wet, getting sprayed when trying to replace loose fittings and overall preoccupation and excitement with the event!
|The water apprentice ('scuse the rubbish behind, we are waiting to get a tow bar on our car so we can take it to the tip!)|
We are going to repair parts of the irrigation system on the other terraces but it's good to know that a fair bit of the work is done. Our kind neighbour called one evening with a jar of his honey for us and wanted to show Mark his own irrigation system. Bearing in mind that our neighbour does not speak English and Mark is at 'improvers level' in Spanish, it's a good job he was going off to inspect something practical and visual. Mark returned with the message 'keep it simple'. We may well take on board our neighbour's advice when looking at the two lower terraces.
As the acequia water has run through open channels you cannot drink it unless it were treated. We only use our domestic water from the acequia for washing - ourselves, clothes and dishes! We collect our drinking water in big water carriers from springs and fuentes. Knowing our drinking water was low we had a trip out to a fuente (spring) in a neighbouring spa town, Lanjarón. Lanjarón is famous for its bottled water and (I believe) it was the first established bottled water company in Spain, now owned by Danone. Most of the fuentes in town are beautifully tiled and often have an inscription or verse by Federico García Lorca.
|Filling our boots at a fuente in Lanjaron|
|I couldn't agree with you more, Federico|
So with all fluid levels topped up for the time being we continue to brace ourselves for the drought. It occured to me after visiting the Alhambra a couple of times over the past few years that my favourite aspect of the gardens is actually the water. The Moors certainly gave this precious commodity the reverence it deserves.
We look forward to our second week 'en casa' and the pleasures and challenges that face us.