Trelograms #27 — Speaking of Water . . .

When i was little, i’d often leave the tap running while brushing my teeth. If Grandpa noticed, he’d poke me — “did you buy the Descoberto River?” — that’s where most of the water used in my hometown (Brasília) comes from.

I didn’t really understand what he meant back then — water comes from the tap! I even remember crossing the Descoberto River in a car, reading the name on the sign before the bridge, and just feeling further confused . . .

It wasn’t until i started cycle touring that i began to make a more mindful connection between the water from my tap and the sources and bodies of water around or underneath us — and it seems like i still have a long way to go establishing this connection.

I started writing this piece with the observation that i only need about 7 liters of water per day when i’m cycle touring for drinking, cooking and bathing — seven liters! Although i’ve only traveled so far in places where water is relatively abundant and clean, just having to look for water several times a day and carry all of it on me has already taught me a lot.

I felt pretty smug. I wanted to share this powerful lesson from the road and my water collection/consumption protocol with all of you.

Now i’m embarrassed that, upon further reflection, things might not be so simple — i’m still alienated from how much water goes into the meat i eat a lot more often when i’m on the road than when i’m not, or the laundry i’ll still do the “conventional” way at a host’s every one or two weeks, or just the infrastructure in general i benefit from (for “free”) during my travels.

And even that is just the beginning of hydro-ethical considerations.

Still as a kid, i was once thirsty walking back home on a hot day, and asked a landscaper if i could have some of the water he was working with — “of course, denying someone water is a sin,” said the man. I shared that exchange with Grandpa when i got home, adding that water should be free for everybody — “sure, but who’s going to pay for it?

Maybe Grandpa was onto something — maybe i did feel and act like i owned the Descoberto River — and didn’t have to share it with anybody else.

Featured photo: drawing water from a well in Moldovan countryside ( May ’17 )

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Trelograms’ is a wordplay between ‘telegram’ and ‘trélos’ (Greek for ‘mad’)

Trelograms: inspiration

4 thoughts on “Trelograms #27 — Speaking of Water . . .

  1. This makes me wonder how / if you verify that the water is okay to drink? You mentioned elsewhere that you ask the locals — that’s all that’s needed? What if they say that the water is … so-so? and you cannot find any other water?

    Does it happen sometimes that you boil the water? Or maybe water purification tablets?

    I spoke with someone who works in a non-profit that purifies water, with sunshine. I forgot the non-profits name and website. “how to purify water with sunlight” gives some search hits though. UV rays kill bacteria.

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful questions 🙂

      It hasn’t yet happened that i couldn’t find another source of clean water before running out of it where i’ve traveled so far, which has been mostly Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

      I treated my water with chlorine in Turkey, and i also do it sometimes in the Carpathians (when i’m hiking) if i can’t find a local and it’s not obvious that the source of water is regularly used by other other hikers or local shepherds/foragers.

      I’ve only been sick once so far, and it happened between Serbia and Romania. I don’t know what exactly caused it but i took water from a spring on the roadside in Serbia (where i didn’t ask anybody), and some especially funny tasting water from another spring in Romania, where i’d been nevertheless told the water was OK — i didn’t treat either of them.

      For my next project, i’m planning to take this:

      I’ve heard about UV systems, but as far as i know they require batteries — if you can find the reference i’d be glad to learn more about it 🙂

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