I learned a lot about water this week, I came face-to-face with my fear of scarcity, and I realized again what a privileged position I’m in, even here.
I’m afraid of not having enough water. When I don’t drink enough, I don’t feel as good; I don’t sleep as well; I don’t think as well. I’m always planning for water and refilling my glass and peeing. I hate worrying about if I’ll have enough water.
The thought didn’t cross my mind that, in South America, I’d have to buy all the water I would drink. That took my scarcity fears up a notch: What if the stores are closed? What if I’m sick? It took some getting used to Buenos Aires, but it worked.
Now, Peru is in a water crisis. I guess Peru is always in a water crisis, but because of the flooding in the north, the water to Lima has been cut off for a week. That means that millions of people haven’t had access to running water for cooking or cleaning or flushing toilets or bathing or drinking. I’m not sure how many locals actually drink the tap water, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who can’t afford to buy bottled water. Last week, though, everyone bought bottled water. There was no other option. And the stores ran out.
I hadn’t lived through scarcity like that, and it wasn’t even as bad as it could’ve been. A lot of restaurants still had bottled water which I could afford to buy, and, at the end of the day, I could’ve gotten on a plane and left. That’s my privilege.
1 in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water.
-World Health Organization
Sedapal, the water company, kept promising that the water would be returned. Then, one day turned into two and two into three until we all stopped believing anything they said. In the meantime, we were all buying water wherever we could find it. Hacker Paradise bought bottles. Residencia Coworking bought bottles. On the way to breakfast on Saturday morning, I happened to be walking by the gas station on the corner when they happened to get a water delivery. I crowded in with about thirty other people and waited in line, hoping they wouldn’t sell out before I got to the register. I bought a 20L box, enough for about 5 days, and sighed in relief.
The water came back to the city yesterday, but it’s still off at my apartment. Apparently, there’s a problem with the valves on my block and Sedapal has to come fix them before our water will flow again. Thankfully, the apartment building has water tanks (like most apartment buildings in Lima). We’ve been getting water for 2 hours every morning between 6 and 8am, so you don’t need to worry about me smelling offensively.
I’ve learned to collect buckets of water whenever it’s on. That way, I can wash my hands or my face, flush my toilet (once) if I need to, and cook a pot of spaghetti.
As you can expect, the morale was pretty low with the group last week. Unlike my apartment, their buildings mismanaged their water tanks and ran out the first day. There was a lot of time spent at the beach watching sunsets and talking about going home. Most of us have decided not to go home early, but a few have opted to return to “the land of running water.” Like I said, we’re privileged.
By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
-World Health Organization
The absolute best news of the week was learning THEY HAVE DOMINO’S PIZZA HERE!!!!!!!!! If you don’t know that Domino’s is my favorite pizza chain, you don’t know me at all and you should be ashamed of yourselves. A few of my favorite chicas and I had a pizza party last night and it was amazing and wonderful and comforting and tasty and beautiful and delicious and the absolute best. I will leave you with this gorgeous picture of my favorite pizza (pepperoni, mushroom, and jalapeño). Everyone should order one right now in my honor.
Until next week, send me pictures of you doing laundry, please. I want to dream.