Saturday, May 7, 2011

Golden Nuggets VII: Water Edition

Golden Nuggets is a term I am borrowing from my friend Sini who is spending her senior year of high school in Indonesia as a foreign exchange student. She calls all the random facts she's gathered about the country she's now living in Golden Nuggets. In that vein, I am going to periodically share Golden Nuggets about Haiti. 

Clean drinking water is a luxury in Haiti. You can buy drinking water several ways.

  1. A Culligan water jug, known as a gallon though it's probably 5 gallons in reality, costs 50 gourds or $1.25 US. Gallons are sold at grocery stores and roadside boutiques (these are a whole other post). When my gallon is empty, I send the yard man out with the empty gallon and 50 gourds. He brings it back in a matter of minutes and I have drinking water again. It varies how long my gallon lasts, but normally I have it for 7-10 days before I need a new one. 
  2. Water pouches are sold on the street. I always carry my water bottle with me, so I haven't ever needed to buy a water pouch. They seem quite convenient for people who are out and about. Sometimes they are even frozen, which is a nice treat when it's frequently in the high 80s in the city.
  3. Public tap water is also fairly safe to drink. Most houses (of American standards) have a cistern that collects rain water. It's also possible to have your house hooked up to the public water, which does not appear to run constantly. I haven't done any official research on this, but from my observations it appears that the public water is normally on in the morning for a couple hours. At our house the public water just runs into our cistern, so as long as our cistern has water we have water. However, I know that some people don't have cisterns (these are typically houses that also dont' have electricity--at least legally). These households fill 5 gallon buckets with water while it's on and then use the water from their buckets throughout the day. I use the tap water to brush my teeth, to boil pasta, and to rinse my dishes. I think it would be okay to drink, but since the Culligan water (that I know is safe) is so cheap I stick with that.

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