12.17.2008

Is the Heat On?

The answer would be, "No."

Every winter in Ukraine there are issues with utilities. It's like a political / technical holiday tradition. Sometimes it's water, sometimes it's gas, sometimes it's electricity, sometimes it's all three at once.

Right now, the story is that the city is conserving energy so they haven't turned the boilers on full power, so the water that runs through our radiators isn't heating at all. They will turn the boilers up when it gets really cold. (Temperatures that produce this kind of hoar frost apparently don't qualify. But doesn't it look cool?)



We have wall-mount heaters / air conditioners in each room of our apartment, but we can't use them once the temperatures drop below 28 degrees. Our apartment is all windows and doors, the ceilings are crazy high, and the rooms are twice as large as they need to be, so it takes a lot to make things feel warm. Our kitchen is an absolute refrigerator.

So we ordered space heaters from the embassy housing people. We got three, so they are in the bedrooms at night and I move one around in the day to whatever room we are spending time in. They smell like burnt rubber, but they do keep a room warm.

I honestly can't imagine what the real people are doing, those who can't just call someone up to give them space heaters. How do moms keep their babies warm? I get stressed out about Charlie's feet being cold and he won't keep socks on. And how dreary to come in from the cold and have an apartment that is not too much warmer than outside.



In addition to the city government induced utility issues, there are the fun utility things that happen with plumbing when someone purchases the apartment above you and proceeds to do extensive renovations to kitchen and bathrooms. There are no codes or approval processes and they reroute pipes to suit their needs without any thought to those who live above or below.

(In some cases, usually in very old apartment buildings, a new owner will install an entirely different size of pipe and attach it to the downstairs neighbors - all the plumbing and electrcical is connected between all the apartments in a building - without the proper fittings and unbeknownst to him, a huge leak destroys the wall of the downstairs neighbor, who is then responsible for his own repairs.)

So for the last few days, due to the remodel going on upstairs, we have had very little hot water, sometimes the water won't turn on for long spells during the day, and most frequently, the faucet stutters and spurts and spits out pumpkin colored water.

So we've piled on the socks and sweaters and stay in one room most of the day and try to steal a decent shower / bath whenever we can. And I have a couple excuses for not doing dishes.

I personally think they hold out on the heat until New Year's Eve every year so that people are extra happy and feel extra blessed to have what they have as they celebrate. It's like Scrooge letting Bob Cratchett go home two minutes early on Christmas.

2 comments:

Bunsy said...

I understand the space heater necessity. Sorry about the water though. Hope you can pull through and have a Merry Christmas at the same time.

Jen @ Amazing Trips said...

It sounds like you're camping! In the Ukraine. In WINTER. Yikes. Want to come stay for a few days in San Diego? :)

I just tonight wrote a post about my love of electric mattress pads. Even though it doesn't get "that" cold in Southern California, having a nice warm bed to crawl in to at night is pure luxury. You're right though ... I can't imagine how the "real" people cope. Like my grandmother 90 years ago who didn't have indoor plumbing or a refrigerator. I can't even imagine it > but it was her way of life and reality - so that's all she knew.

Stay warm!!