When we lived the US, we usually took things like running water and electricity pretty much for granted. Sure, the lights could go out during an intense summer thunderstorm, but for the most part, we didn’t really even think about them.
Here in Mexico City, a very large number of people (probably millions) only have running water one day, or one hour, a week. That means that they fill up every large container and barrel that they have in their homes and then use them throughout the week to wash dishes, flush toilets (the old fashioned way by pouring water rapidly into the bowl) and take baths. Some people, especially on the edges of the city, don’t have running water at all and rely on the service of water trucks. Some people use re-usable jugs called garafónes that you can take and fill up with purified water at many locations around the city. Or, you can always use a bucket.
There is a water crisis in this city. With an overcrowded population of 22 to 30 million people that is growing every day, all of the infrastructure systems (not just water) simply can’t support everyone. The water systems and pipes are old and a lot of water is lost due to leaks. The rainy season causes backups and sewage problems. Sewage is a big problem in the poorer areas that don’t have running water at all. Plus, Mexico City is running out of water. The water tables below the city from the old Aztec lake city of Tenochtitlan are drying up, and also causing Mexico City to sink even more quickly as they collapse. The city brings in a large amount of water from other sources. Water marks the huge class distinction plainly here– the ultra-rich have rooftop swimming pools, and the poor (by far the majority in this country) may not have running water at all.
Water and electricity are connected together in our apartment complex. When the lights go out, the water goes out. When there’s not “enough electricity” flowing through the lines to run both the lights and the water pumps, they choose the lights. For that reason, we usually keep a few jugs of water on hand. Lately we’ve had to use them often. For some reason, the water seems to go out right when I’ve got a lot of dirty dishes and 10 people coming over for dinner. That is the case today. I hope the water comes back on so that I can take a shower and do the dishes, or we’ll have to cancel the movie watching party that we have planned with the students in Josh’s Bible study. I personally don’t like to cook raw meat without running water or ask my guests to flush the toilet the “old fashioned way.” But a lot of people in this city do it on a daily basis. That sure puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?