In much of Latin America, the water out of the tap is not drinkable. In fact, the latest edition of Revue (Guatemala’s English-language magazine), features a story on a company that is trying to assist poorer families to have access to clean drinking water and to reduce the number of people who end up in hospital with parasites.
Fortunately, most eating establishments (no matter how small) do used filtered water (sometimes purified water), so I rarely have any stomach problems when I travel (touch wood!). And most of the hostels I’ve stayed in on this trip have provided drinking water refills for their guests from large containers. This means that I’ve rarely had to buy water or use my trusty Travel Tap microfilter bottle that, according to the brochure, is supplied to Peacekeeping forces, Special forces, and USA Dept Homeland Security! I have to admit, I was a little nervous to use it the first few times, but it is a total winner!
There have therefore only been a couple of occasions where I’ve really needed to buy water. But rather than buying yet another bottle that I don’t need or want, here in Central America they also sell 500ml water baggies.
8 cents for this one in El Salvador – about half the price of a bottle of water. All you have to do is bite off a corner and squeeze!
Its really common for street vendors and bus vendors to sell these baggies rather than bottles (they save room for bottles of Coke and other sugary drinks that the majority of people are thoroughly addicted to), and it does seem to be slightly less wasteful.
The plastic is, in theory, recyclable (see logo on the baggie), but given that recycling is a relatively new phenomenon here, and certainly not adopted by all places, if only the plastic were biodegradable…