7th April 2023
The march of time is relentless and, according to particle physicists, it only ever moves forward. Coming to Cuba we have a country where time has stood still, while on Ruffian we have moved between different epochs having changed from BWM* to AWM**.
We had arrived in Cuba armed with a box full of new orings, lipseals, spings and sliders and all these now needed to find their way inside the watermaker under Iain’s not so expert eye. With a dizzying array of manuals, invoices and reality the seals were all cross referenced and after what felt like hours every different sized oring was bagged up labelled and readied for installation.
Slowly the watermaker came to bits and one by one the old and new orings, which looked and felt exactly the same, were replaced. The old lipseal slipped off effortlessly and the now ones resisted any sort of deformation. Iain had found the problem and his hopes soared to new levels.
After hours of work the watermaker was back together, all the valves were switched to making water and Fiona sat expectantly by the power button. On Iain’s command the button was pressed, the pump sprang into action and saltwater started flowing into the watermaker. That same water flowed out at the same rate and at the same pressures and still salty while Iain’s hope and expectation sunk to new unfathomable depths. We were remaining in BWM time.
Leaving Ruffian in BWM time, we sought out shoreside excitement and felt we’d entered a different epoch as soon as we stepped ashore. Wide boulevards were devoid of modern cars and the favoured form of transport were horse drawn taxis. When the noise of an engine invaded our space it was either housed in an American or Russian car from the 50s or attached to a tiny motorbike that belched out blue 2 stroke smoke.
Even the buildings were stuck in a timewarp. There were no high rise glass structures or manicured houses touting the latest of technology, everything was straight out of the 1930’s. Low rise art deco buildings fitted their plots perfectly and every urban street was lined with houses that wouldn’t feel out of place in downtown Paris. The one thing they all had in common was needing a good lick of paint and a heap of TLC (not for lack of wanting, but wholly due to the US’s blockage, which the UN raises annual humanitarian resolutions over***) that is being denied by the American embargo.
Cuba’s infrastructure that covered the edges of Cienfuegos bay were also stuck in the past. Power stations seemed to lack essential maintenance as black smoke poured out of them and railroad tracks showed no signs of trains running and plenty of signs of rusting. The one thing that didn’t seem to be crumbling was the welcomeness of the people, their ability to engage with our pigeon Spanish and their want to help us at every turn.
There were exceptions to this world left over from the turn of the century and these were all on the tourist trail. The opera house was resplendent with bright frescos that looked down on the audiences and the government buildings shone with a love that had been bestowed on them from a conscripted army. It felt like Cuba had been forced to be stuck in a different age.
Determined to move Ruffian into the age of AWM, the innards of the watermaker were once again examined and Iain once again had a eureka moment. A critical oring wasn’t seated in its little home and looked like it was trying to escape from its high-pressure life. Pistons were also examined in minute detail and bores rubbed until they were both smooth and shiny.
With everything reassembled Iain readied himself for another disappointment. Fiona pushed the magic power button, pressures rose, pistons started moving back and forth and the pump started to sound like it was really working. With a feeling of trepidation Iain checked the product water, fresh water was flowing, the TDS levels were dropping and we’d taken a quantum leap into a time of AWM. With the flick of a switch, we’d time travelled through a whole epoch.
* BWM is a time ‘Before Water Maker’ where every drop of this precious liquid is counted, every litre is carried and we wince with every cycle of the water pump.
** AWM is ‘After Water Maker’ time where we luxuriate in limitless showers, tanks are filled with the simple press of a button and we have certainly in being self sufficient. *** The UN resolutions are not passed because only the USA, Palau and Israel vote against them.
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