I suspect that, even in the US, there are many places where the availability potable water is an issue, but of course I’ve never lived in one. Consequently, it never occurred to me that I’d have to deal with the fact that, “…you can’t drink the water.”
This is no joke. Quito is bad. You can bathe in the water that comes from the tap, provided you don’t have any open cuts on your body, but you sure as sh*t can’t drink it or even brush your teeth with it. On the other hand, Quito is pretty high up in the Andes and close to its water sources. We don’t ever see the water turn a funny color like it did in Cusco (Peru), and Quito’s water doesn’t stink like the water in Lima. But consider Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city and on the coast to boot. They’ve got real problems. You can’t drink the water there. You can’t cook with it, and some guidebooks recommend not bathing in it. Though I have no idea how you’d manage that.
So what’s our life like here where the water isn’t potable? Well…mostly we boil water…a lot of water…three or four times a day. In fact, we boil the CR*P out of it because at 9,500 ft. water boils readily but not effectively when sterilization is the goal. And we haul water, lots of water, in 5 liter jugs, uphill (both ways!) from the local mercado. And despite all the precautions, both the Frogette and I have had a bout of stomach flu in our 5 weeks south of the equator. Was it the water? Who really knows, but it’s the most likely culprit. Gives me a whole new appreciation of how lucky most people in the US have it where water is concerned.