Water. Boiled? Or not?

I’m starting to get into a dull routine here in Sri Lanka. I did another load of laundry, watched a movie – Swordfish and the first half of Bad Boys, Fahim imported my email from Outlook into Eudora and sent the rest out. Then I had a nap and blogged. Meals consisted of leftovers.

Yep. That’s my day in a nutshell.

I could end it there, or I could expound on other oddities here.

Let’s start with drinking water.

Us North Americans have been told that, when travelling overseas, if the water in the area isn’t safe, drink only boiled or bottled water, and when it comes to fruits and vegetables, peel it, cook it, something else I can’t remember right now, or forget it.


The water in Sri Lanka is advertised as safe, yet every household – or perhaps only most? – boil their drinking water. (Fahim says: I’m not sure about "every" household .. most probably just drink out of the tap actually .. but my Mom always boiled the tap water before drinking and that habit has stuck with me – even when I lived in the US. So I’ve basically continued on the habit :p) One of the things we bought that first shopping trip to the department store – and one of these days I’ll figure out what it’s called – we bought a water dispenser. It holds something like 10 litres of water and sits on the kitchen counter. When you want water, you twist the spout, and out it comes. These are prevalent here.

The idea is that first, you boil the water, then fill the dispenser. Yeah, I know, elementary. And usually the dispenser is full plus the water pot – you have one pot dedicated to boiling water, and ours holds something like 4 litres of water – is either boiling or already boiled.

Because the other point of the endeavor is to make sure you have enough water available if the water is shut off, which seems to happen fairly frequently here. So far, the longest the water has been shut off for has been an hour or something. Fahim? Am I totally exaggerating? Yeah, well, if you know me, you know my memory sucks, so you’ll forgive me anyway. The water also shuts down for five or ten minutes at a time fairly regularly. Fahim tells me that sometimes, the water is off for hours at a time, and you get no notice, and you’ve got to be prepared. Hence the other reason for the water dispenser and water pot – backup water resource.

And that’s as far as the locals take the water thing.

We’ve taken it a step further, mostly cuz I’m a Canadian wuss who’s frequently overheated.

We also have two 2 ½ litre jugs of water cooling in the fridge, as well as two 1 ½ litre bottles we drink out of. Yup. I need cold water. It’s warm here, and I’ll repeat myself. I’m a wuss and I’m overheated. Have I mentioned the heat rashes? I’m still getting them, only now, they’re in places that are causing a great deal more discomfort than I had previously experienced. Have I also mentioned the several showers a day? I still take at least two. It’s the only way I can survive at this point. So yeah, I’m a wuss, and I need cold water.

Fahim is used to the flavor of the local water. I am not. It has a chlorine bite.

I used to complain about the chlorine I tasted in Edmonton’s or Vancouver’s or Kelowna’s water. Let me tell you something. That, my friends, was merely a hint. The chlorine here actually bites back.

Bottled water is too expensive to buy all the time, so I’m going to have to make do with boiled. Fahim, feeling sorry for me, and really, why shouldn’t he? It’s all his fault I’m here being overheated and subjected to over-chlorinated water supplies, has taken pity on me. The first week or so, we mixed our water with fruit juice. When the juice ran out, we decided to switch to powdered flavor crystals for two reasons. One, the expense. Two, mold was growing in our water bottles. Ejection. But, see, he won’t let me have actual flavor in the water – and that would be too much sugar, anyway, on top of again being too expensive – so we add only enough to cover the chlorine flavor.

Somehow when I mix it, it always comes out thicker than when he does it. Go figure.

Basically, I’m drinking barely flavored chlorine water that looks like urine. Nice image for you. But this way, I’m still drinking the water and not being dehydrated.

The other thing about bottled or boiled water. You’re supposed to brush your teeth with it, too, not use tap water. Cuz if you use tap water, you’re still exposing yourself to the bacteria/virii/parasites. Uh, oops.

See, Fahim used tap water, so me, not even thinking about it, also used tap water. I finally realized my mistake a week later, mentioned it to Fahim, and he just shrugs. "Everybody does this," he says. Yeah, huh. Okay. Now, it’s a little late. If any damage is done, it’s done. So guess what? I continue brushing my teeth with tap water.


Author: LMAshton

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