alex vs. water

One thing you may not appreciate about your daily life back in the U.S. is turning on the faucet and getting water. Actually, we can turn on the tap and get water here, at least most of the time, making us quite lucky by West African standards.

With that water we can wash our hands, wash dishes, and so forth. But we can’t drink it. We can’t make Flynn’s bottles with it. We can’t rinse fruits and vegetables with it. We can’t brush our teeth with it. For all those things, and anything else that involves consuming the water, we must use the distiller that sits in the corner of our kitchen:

We’re lucky to have clean water available to us in our home, of course, but still, getting it requires an extra step. It’s not too cumbersome of a step for tasks completed in the kitchen since the distiller is after all right there.

For things like teeth brushing and nighttime bottles, though, dealing with the water situation can become tiresome. You have to plan your water needs ahead of time and make sure to take the appropriate amount of distiller water upstairs with you. Andy maintains that this really isn’t such a big deal. I, however, am the lazier of us two — at least when it comes to househouse tasks — and I respectfully disagree.

For Flynn’s bottles, this nightly distiller water dance is something we’ll continue to do no matter how annoying. For myself, though, sloth has recently begun to win out. I’m pretty sure I brushed my teeth with tap water in Niger, where the water situation must have been similar. People from here drink the water, so it’s not lethal or anything. What’s the worst that could happen? It takes my immune system a while to adjust? So what? Big deal.

And so… as Andy looked on with chagrin, I went for it. Yes, I began brushing my teeth with the forbidden water. That was over a week ago, and guess what? I’m still here. I haven’t even felt a tiny bit sick or anything.

Score one for me.

It may seem like just a small thing, and of course it is. But still, one less small thing to worry about is one less small thing to worry about. I’ll take it.

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6 Responses to alex vs. water

  1. Camille says:

    This is good to know – I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do when we get to Africa and I have to bathe JBallz. He loves to drink his bathwater. 🙂

  2. Alex says:

    And it should also be noted that Abbey has no shame about slurping up water from wherever she happens to find it, and she’s no worse for the wear.

  3. Theresa says:

    Cotonou water’s pretty clean, generally. Sometimes you can even smell the chlorine (ugh). I drank the water the whole time I was there and didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects. Elsewhere (Parakou, Porto-Novo), you may want to be more cautious, though. 🙂

  4. Jamie says:

    This whole post could refer to our house here in the Marshall Islands. It was fun to read. I haven’t gotten sick yet from brushing my teeth with the tap water either. And I let Max drink out of the hose a few days ago and he’s still alive. Thanks for posting.

  5. Kelly says:

    Ari and I totally brushed our teeth with the water (and washed fruits/veggies in it, actually) the whole time we were in China. I know Benin may be a different story, but I’m pretty sure all the expats around us did the same, and I had arguably less stomach problems on average there than I do in the U.S!

  6. I drank the water the whole time I was in Morocco and I never had any problems either. The trick is to ease your way into it. I started by buying bottled water, drinking a gulp, and then adding tap water to fill the bottle to the top. Every day I’d drink a little more before adding tap water and within about 2 weeks I was drinking straight from the tap. I never once got sick, even when we traveled to the south. Good luck!

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