How do you find water without a geological survey and an orbiting satellite?

Simple. You bring in an 82 year old water diviner called Juanito! OK, OK! I’m not an ageing hippy, just ageing…

David, our agent, recommended that we employ the services of Juanito to locate water on our land as, whilst there are a couple of rundown porthos (wells) that we’ve found, the amount of water available is miniscule for modern living and certainly couldn’t be used for irrigation.

Yes, we can and will get water from the cisterna and borehole located about a mile and a half away, but there’s nothing like having your own water source to be properly off grid. I mean “off grid” means just that, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean “connected to a community water tank up the road”!

So we met up with Juanito who is a very charming 82 year old and is fit as a fiddle. We met at the old house on our land and it was immediately apparent that he had already done his homework as he clearly knows the geology of the area intimately. He wandered around for an hour or so, going into each of our three valleys, before he settled on the middle one as the most likely candidate for water.

We stood and watched as he clambered across the hillside like one of our local ibex, a real mountain goat. He seemed to slowly zero in on the top corner, just below one of the tracks which leads down about half a mile from the house. We watched him quarter back and forth like a hound on the scent of a fox. Could he smell something?

He was carrying what looked like a y-shaped piece of hazel wood – in fact two bent twigs bound together with grey duct tape. Very scientific I don’t think and I didn’t expect much other than the usual pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo.

Eventually, he waved to us from across the valley and I peeled Helen from out of the air-conditioned car as it was very warm. He then walked back and forth, holding his bent twigs and then indicated a spot. “There are two large water flows below us”, he proclaimed. “You have a huge amount of agua here, very lucky!”.

Apparently, he reckoned that the two flows crossed – one at around 165m and the other at around 190 m deep. I mean, 190m below us! How on earth? My skepticism must have shone like a beacon as he handed me the twigs and told me to have a go myself. I held the wooden water detector in the way he showed me and walked back and forth across the area and, blow me, the twigs practically tore my hands off! I couldn’t stop them from dipping no matter what I did and at the same point every time. Helen couldn’t resist having a go and the same happened for her. According to Juanito, only about one in 20 pepole can do it and it’s very unusual for both of a couple to be able to do it. Just lucky, I guess.

So, what happens next? Well, we have to pay around 8000 euros for the company that our divine water finder works with and they will use a pneumatic boring machine to drill a 20 cm shaft down to the water and line it with nylon sleeving to prevent collapse. We then drop a submersible, high pressure pump down the borehole and thar she blows…in theory.

So, I asked the obvious question; what happens if they don’t hit water? Well, said the man, you don’t pay a single euro. So, if it works, we have unlimited free water (about 20m3 per hour he reckons) and we pay;  if it doesn’t, we don’t pay. Well, the company is still in business is all I’m saying.

How does it work, if it works? According to Juanito, there have ben 30,000 year old cave paintings discovered in the sahara showing people holding bent sticks like his. So, either they’re antennae to talk to aliens or they’re water divining rods. As he said,  the primitive ancients couldn’t spare the resources to just keep on digging deep holes in the sahara desert to find water, they had to know where to dig – and dig they did, resulting in the lines of wells that have fed the caravanserai across the desert for millenia.

Unless of course, it was those pesky aliens spotting water from orbit?

Here’s a video of us locating the water – apologies for the slight blurriness.