Wednesday, January 18, 2012

All The Water You Want To Drink

One of the perks of our current location is our ability to take quick and easy trips around Europe.  In keeping with this idea, we recently spent Martin Luther King weekend in Rome.  We were the ultimate tourists and visited the City's top attractions- the Vatican, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Trevi Fountain.  It was a whirlwind few days that was made especially so with a two year old in tow.  However, because we had a two year old with us, we saw these sights through his eyes.

I'm putting it mildly when I say that Sidney is obsessed with water. Uji (Albanian for water) is the first word he learned when we arrived in Tirana and he never misses an opportunity to investigate the water around him.   I even shipped Sidney's new water table to Albania ahead of our arrival so that it could be here waiting for him.

The irony of this love of water is that we live in a country where water is not potable.  Sidney can play with the water in the sink but he can't drink it.  (This of course, makes bath time a challenge).  His aforementioned water table is only filled with distilled water.  The giant water distiller in the kitchen makes for hours of potential water playing fun.  Visits to the Embassy require keeping a tight hold of his hand lest Sidney end up in the courtyard water fountain.   (This has happened on more than one occasion).  The smallest sidewalk puddle is reason enough to stop and play.  (Of course, the real challenge arises in explaining why he can't drink the water).

The child can spot water from a mile away.  His excitement at riding the ferry from Albania to Italy was compounded by all of the water that surrounded us.  "Uji, uji, uji" became the refrain of our waking hours once on board.

Sidney comes by his love of water naturally.  I've been told that Glenn loved water and water fountains as a child.  Glenn grew up and joined the Navy which gave him the opportunity to spend months at sea surrounded by nothing but water.  Even today, his biggest complaint about life in Albania is the fact that there aren't any water fountains, and when there are, it is not safe to drink from them.

Sampling the water at the Trevi Fountain
Given this, both Glenn and soon Sidney, were very excited to be in Rome- a City whose fountains are legendary. A stroll through Piazza Navona took well over an hour due to the three- yes three- large fountains that line the plaza.  The Trevi Fountain?  Not only was there so much water to look at but there were fountains to drink from.  (I'll admit that I even drank from a fountain there and I never drink from fountains in any location).  For Sidney, the highlight of the trip to St. Peter's Basilica was the fountain in Piazza S. Pietro.  From a two year old perspective, each space in the bridge over the Tiber River requires investigating.  After all, a different vantage point can make the water below look all new.  While I enjoyed the historical aspect of the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, my two boys used our explorations as an opportunity to locate and drink from every drinking fountain we came upon.

Yes, our time in Rome was a wonderful, water filled weekend.  Now we're back in Tirana- the City of non-potable and unreliable water.  We're back to explaining to Sidney that he can't drink water out of the tap and that puddles here are more apt to be toxic than not.  Last night Glenn put Sidney to bed- after a bath that was more of a battle to not drink the water- and we noticed that there was one reliable water related thing in this country.....our monthly water bill had been thrown over our gate and was sitting in the yard.


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