Living on Ikaria, especially during the dry summer months requires one to be duly concerned about water conservation and usage. The fresh water supply is controlled by the local entities and in our situation by the village water authorities. As such, they try to regulate and conserve as much water as possible during these arid periods. Most locals have some kind of water reservoir placed on the roof of their homes.These reservoirs can hold anywhere from about fifty gallons to several hundred gallons of water, depending on their size and shape.
We also had a reservoir perched on top of our roof, one made of metal, painted bright green (I don't know why) by my father. The life span of such a metal box before it tends to rust out and leak water all over the roof is determined by how well it is maintained. Since the water entering the reservoir comes directly from the mountains, it is unfiltered and contains small amounts of dirt and sand, that through time accumulate at the bottom of the cistern. About once a year or so this sediment needs to be removed. One would assume some kind of flushing mechanism would be installed in the water tanks, but no, that was not the case with our tank, that would be too convenient. In order to clean out the insides, the flow to the tank would have to be turned off, and all the retained water would have to be drained, leaving a few inches of water in the bottom along with the build-up. This presents a problem of how to remove the accumulated watery grime.The top opening of our tank was no bigger than the size of a regular manila folder. It would be pried open then someone would stick a mop in thru the opening slush around the remaining water and sediment and hope that most of it would exit out the outflow pipe.
This was not a very effective way of debris removal as my plumber, Niko remarked the day he came to clean out the tank. Jokingly, he suggested a better way would be to have a small person in the tank with a mop and sponge to soak up all the water and sediment. Taking his peculiar suggestion literally, my mind immediately flashed to the only individual diminutive enough to fit through the small opening, my eight year old daughter, Andrea. It took some coaxing and assurances that there were no snakes, lizards, or other such creepy monsters inhabiting the dark and spooky water tank.I reassured her the plumber and I would be outside the tank at all times, holding flashlights and shining the way for her. After a few moments of deep thought and the possibility of acquiring another Barbie doll for her collection, Andrea gallantly agreed to this unusual plumbing experiment.
Lifting her up over the metal opening I slowly lowered her into the foreboding, green, watery repository, while the disbelieving plumber shined a rather dim light into the cavernous tank. I handed her a bucket, a sponge, and a mop. Cautiously, I coached her to crawl from corner to corner removing the damp sediment. In less than fifteen minutes, either out of fear or claustrophobia, she emerged clutching the bucket in her little hands, and reeking of dampness. Her bathing suit, once a brilliant Barbie pink, now crusted over with mud, was the shade of bubble gum infused with chocolate syrup. Happily though, she acknowledged the bravery she exhibited in the daunting feat of cleaning out the disgusting water tank. It wasn't till later that same afternoon that she emphatically swore on a pile of Barbies that she would never go into that tank again.
To this very day in the kafenion around our village, the story of the brave eight year old girl,who was lowered into and cleaned out a damp, dirty water tank is still being told by a retired plumber, while thinking out loud to himself, "What is wrong with her father?"