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’)