During our week in Ethiopia we couldn’t help but think about water. The water that flowed from the tap would make you sick. And it did. I spent a day sidelined by it. You couldn’t brush your teeth with it, you had to be careful not to drink it while showering, you had to be careful with dishes “washed” in it.
Everywhere we went, even in Addis Ababa, we’d see these yellow containers that looked like they carried gasoline. But they were for water. When we drove to Hossana we saw even more of them. People would be walking along the road carrying them. Donkeys would be loaded down with them. Whenever the road went over a bridge or a depression where there was some source of water we’d see people crowded around a muddy, brown patch of water filling up their jugs. This was their drinking water. At least what came out of the tap in our guesthouse looked clean, even though it wasn’t.
I’ve known all along that this is what happens in places like Ethiopia. People walk miles just to get water, and the water they do get can make them sick. But seeing it is something else. Getting sick from it yourself is a different experience altogether.