Travel helps you realize things you take for granted. For me it’s water.
Coming from Canada, the country with the greatest fresh water supply in the world, I expect that when I turn on the taps, water will come out and I will have my choice of hot or cold. I can also expect this water to be potable though I still use a Brita filter before I let the water pass my lips.
When there is no hot water or the water is shut off for maintenance on the pipes, I get upset. But such is my privilege, considering where I live, to get upset over such things.
*Having said that, however, it needs to be stated that not all Canadian communities have clean, running and potable water e.g. some reservations of First Nations people. Also, the former Halifax community of Africville was without a clean water supply (and sanitation) even though the residents paid city taxes.
Though water is usually widely available in Canada, it is not free. Some of the tax money I pay goes towards a water service system that supplies and filters water for human consumption.
Why is water so important and what is the supply like in the rest of the world?
Water is vital for life. We must drink it daily to live, use it to grow our food and clean ourselves with it. The human body is comprised of about 60% water and the Earth is mostly covered in it (about 70%). Thriving communities are built around a water source while the absence of such (desert) sees water as gold.
Water is used for: agriculture, bathing, entertainment, transportation, washing, spiritual cleansing
Some places use water to do laundry the old-fashioned way. Beating clothes on a rock near a river isn’t merely a scene from a sit-com or movie nor something that your parents threaten you with to teach humility and gratitude. In India and other places the people become the agitators and likely take their frustration out during the clothes washing process. (I’m sure it makes for a good workout too.)
Sacred waters: The Ganges in India, a sacred burial ground for traditionally cremated bodies and a river of cleansing; the river Jordan where Jesus was baptized and other anointing water sources around the world recognized by various faiths.
Take care with suicide showers in central and South America where electricity stares you right in the face when showering.
Bath water and babies; don’t throw out either. Note the contrast between communal baths in communities that must share one source of bathing water with the myriad destination spas that use water in both hydrotherapy treatments and decor (eg. Bellagio and the spectacular water show and decorative fountains in Vegas and throughout the world).
There are also natural spectacles of water: Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls, Angel Falls, etc.
Water is also used for sport (surfing, swimming) and many a destination features water as the star attraction: eg. beach holidays, cruises.
Many places don’t have potable water so buying the bottled stuff is often essential. No one wants to contract any of the diseases related to using contaminated water.
Tips for travellers:
- Purchase the bulk size and use to fill a smaller reusable container for daily use rather than buy several single serving bottles.
- Travel with water purification tablets and/equipment.
- No need to bathe everyday (sometimes you can’t) so just wash the “pits and bits”. Use biodegradable wipes and lots of lavender oil to help keep you clean.
- Refrain from disposing of anything (garbage, food, bodily fluids) in the local water supply. Not every country is set up with a filtration system.
With some destinations, we are often forced into water conservation while travelling. Keep the momentum going when you return home to a ‘developed’ country. Using water wisely, rather than wastefully, shows appreciation for this valuable elixir of life.