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Lo water

31 May 2007

Lo, “the other Laura”, who had to move to Mexico because her boyfriend couldn’t stay in the U.S., isn’t living in the pricey gringo ghettos of Mexico City, nor in the more urban areas like my own Santa Maria de la Ribera but out in the burbs… Maybe everything’s up to date in Kansas City, but in Chimulhuacan, some things are a little more … uh… earthy.

We are lucky in that here we have a shower, albeit a cold one. In many houses around here, a shower is a bucket filled with water (hopefully heated, with an electrical heating coil). But this house has running water, hooked up to the shower, to the sink in the bathroom, and to one sink outside, where we wash our dishes and our clothes. A shower is a luxury, but of course as with any cold shower, it’s a quick affair and water waste is kept to a relative minimum.

The toilet is another matter. As it is not connected to the running water, we must “manually” flush it after every use. This entails scraping up some water from somewhere and pouring it into the toilet. Sometimes, if someone has done laundry recently, there’s a store of recycled water to use for purposes like flushing the toilet. Otherwise, we can haul up water from an underground cistern right outside our door. I remember reading somewhere that flushing a toilet takes an ungodly amount of water, a fact that I am blissfully blind to in the U.S. Here, where I fill a bucket with water to flush the toilet, I experience firsthand that yes, flushing the toilet takes a ridiculous amount of water, even when you’re doing it by hand.

My natural first reaction when I compare the availability of water here to the U.S. is that everyone should have plentiful, clean, running water. But a big problem in Mexico City and the surrounding areas is that the population is huge. I often try to imagine what would happen if everyone here had the same easy access to water as we have in the U.S., but I can’t imagine how an already strained environment could possibly handle it.

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