Water Conservation Appreciation

Wednesday 3.31.10

This morning I woke up at 2:30 and I knew it was bad. Without getting into the gruesome details I’ll just say that neither end of my body was happy with something I ate or drank yesterday. Like Sunday, I spent about 6 hours of that day awake, either using the bathroom or trying to fall back asleep.

Around 5pm I started to feel back to normal, and I needed more water to flush the toilet, so I volunteered to help carry water. Water is only available here in the house between around 10pm and 4-5am, so during the day if there’s not enough stored up from the night before we take pitchers down to lower ground where it runs more frequently or is stored and carry it up to the house. I thought I volunteered for one pitcher. That wasn’t even enough to fill the tank of the toilet for one flush. I carried 5 pitchers (all on my head, thank you, just like a normal Guatemalan mujer) and the whole time had that song from the end of The Jungle Book stuck in my head. You know, the song where the woman goes down to the river to fetch the water and then the young girls starts singing about how that will someday be her, then Mogali follows her into civilization. Though I could only remember one line so kept singing it over and over in my head until I was done carrying water. I was so tired by the end of it, that’s what happens when you lose all your body fluids in a day and have only have had two bananas to eat.

I have a new appreciation for the concept of water conservation. Every time I flush a toilet for the rest of my life I will always think about the 7 minute trip it took to carry that one pitcher of water and how the top of my head feels now after doing that a few times. Now, I understand very well the importance of flushing toilets, but I also know better now the difference between understanding a water crisis, like we say we do in the US, and actually feeling a water crisis every day like the people do here. I’ve only lived here for a total of about 6 full days so of course there’s no way to describe what it’s like for the people who have lived here their whole lives under these conditions, but I can describe the difference between people who understand what a drought is but never actually have to live through the hardship of one and the people who only have running water for 7 hours a day, the hours when most people are asleep.

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