It is hard getting used to not drinking the water. While the water here is theoretically potable, it isn’t for us. And not drinking includes: not brushing your teeth with it, not opening your mouth when you are in the shower or washing your face, not rinsing food with it, not having iced drinks when we are out. We have a 20-liter container of bottled water that we use for these things, which costs 16 nuevos soles or $6. So far it lasts about 6 days. The good news is that to get a refill, we can just stop in or call our corner store and they deliver it. A guy rides it over on his scooter, comes in and swaps out the old bottle for the new. Udate: We found an even better deal – 10 soles for established delivery every week or we can call to get water more frequently. This sale happened in what we are learning is the customary fashion – someone came to our house and when we said no the first time, came back a week later. Door to door salespeople are common here and they appear to sell just about everything: cell/internet service, rugs, kitchen wares, stuffed animals and water. The cell/internet people are canvassing the neighborhood in earnest these days and we get several knocks on our door a day from them.
Using bottled water isn’t the biggest hardship, but is a pain when you want to brush your teeth and need to run downstairs for some water. We have also been advised not to eat fruits or uncooked vegetables in restaurants right now because they will have been washed in “bad” (for us) water. Once we adjust a bit to the environment (i.e., dirt) around here, it should be less of a risk to eat those foods outside our house.
In the meantime, washing fruits and vegetables is a process. First, I rinse them and then soak them in “bad” water and bleach, yes, bleach, for 5 minutes. Swish them around a bit, hope I don’t get bleach on my clothes and then rinse them with “good” water. I need to rinse them thoroughly so they don’t taste like bleach, which uses quite a bit of good water. So I am now experimenting with turning “bad” water into “good” water by boiling it for 3 minutes. While the travel nurse told us 20 seconds was adequate boiling time, the CDC says 1 minute is needed and 3 minutes if at high altitude. So let’s hope 3 minutes works otherwise Matt and I might be sick tomorrow from our dinner salad!