Water, Water Everywhere Nor Any Drop to Drink

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!

8 thoughts on “Water, Water Everywhere Nor Any Drop to Drink

  1. Those things one doesn’t think about unless your guts remind you! Just a question, but here you can get different size bottles. Would it be worth getting a small one to keep upstairs so it’s handier?

    • We do keep smaller bottles upstairs, but have to remember to fill them. We have separate bathrooms (a luxury I love) and there isn’t really a place for another larger container. A few extra flights of stairs a day won’t kill us!

    • We will need to bleach fruits and veggies the entire time we live here and will use bottled water in order to reduce our risks of illness. Matt’s boss’ family has been here 4+ years and still bleach and drink bottled water, and the wife is from Colombia. We will branch out to eating raw veggies in better restaurants, but even that will have its risks as food cleanliness and safety do not appear regulated as they are in the US. On the positive side, the other day I had a few bites of a small salad at a restaurant and suffered no adverse effects and Matt ate a small piece of fruit offered to him by a student and was okay.

  2. I should probably give a bit of an introduction, unless you are used to strangers finding your blog and then commenting! I respected Matt as the West Ridge principal when I substituted there, and then worked as librarian for one year. A friend of a friend passed on the interesting tidbit that you two were headed to Peru this summer, especially interesting because my husband and I have lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for two years! It has been fun to read about your life there, on both your blog and Matt’s. Some of the similarities are striking, some of the differences thought-provoking.

    I comment on this post because we also cannot drink the water. We keep a small pitcher in each bathroom which we refill every few days. We also were instructed that there are gentler methods than bleach to wash your vegetables. We use vinegar in water, and some friends do a combination of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, which they say helps the produce to last longer. We soak them for about 15 minutes (I think one website suggests 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water; I don’t measure) then do not rinse, but just let the food air dry. We have not been sick from anything I have washed this way. Friends who have been here longer also use iodine drops, available in a pharmacy.

    I look forward to reading more!

    • Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for your comment and water suggestions. We, too, keep small bottles of water in our bathrooms, but they always seem to run out just as I am brushing my teeth before bed. 🙂 Bottom line is that it is a pain to have to clean fruits and veggies and I will appreciate being able to use tap water when I am home! On the other hand, the freshness of the fruits and veggies may make store bought items at home seem pretty tasteless. It’s one thing when you can go to a WI summer farmers’ market, but another in winter.

      If you have a blog about your life in Honduras, please forward the link. I am sure your life there is fascinating. Best regards.

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