Before I begin, Warning: Possible TMI
As we did research for our preparations to come to American Samoa, we heard that the tap water was not drinkable. I wondered if we would really need to buy all of our water for the next two years. I had heard of other traveling families who would just drink the water and deal with the internal consequences, if it meant that they would be able to go without buying all of their water. I thought, “We can do the same thing”.
Once Nate got to the island, he told me that we would probably have to suck it up and buy all of our water. He said that even the Samoans don’t drink their water from the tap.
I still questioned it.
Fast forward to our second day on the island. Nate is at work and we have run out of water.
Moment of truth.
Do we drink the water, inviting who knows what kind of bacteria and intestinal problems into our bodies?
Or do we walk a mile to the store and buy our drinking water?
Outside its 85 degrees, 90% humidity and full sun for most of the walk. We haven’t found a car yet so walking is our only option.
Isn’t drinking the water just part of the experience that we are asking for? I drank the tap water back on the mainland (I was informed that’s the way to say the States), I should be drinking the tap water here.
Embracing the heat and humidity is part of experience that we are asking for, too.
For today, I decide to embrace the heat and humidity. We’re not settled enough yet to be intentionally putting bacteria in our bodies. We grab our empty gallon bottle and head down the road.
30 minutes later
After a short, break in the slightly air-conditioned store, we head back out to fill our bottle.
Do you see the sign at the top? It is there to inform you that this water has been treated and tested negative for fecal coliform bacteria.
Fecal coliform bacteria?
When I think about filling up a cup of water from the tap, I picture a dozen people who just used the bathroom, using the water pouring into my cup to wash their hands. Maybe those people were clean enough not to get anything gross on their hands but what about the one who’s hand slipped and missed with the toilet paper? And got more than they expected on their hand?
Cue the dry heaving… ?
No more question in my mind. We are buying all of our drinking water!
Anything that has the word fecal in it is not what I want us drinking.
There’s a warning on the sign to inform you what can the bacteria can cause, “diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or even more severe sickness”. Its not any different from what I would imagine but there is something about seeing it written out that makes it seem worse. I don’t feel like spending days in the hospital because someone has extreme dehydration. I would much rather spend my time enjoying this paradise.
So for now, we will just keep buying all of our drinking water. Maybe I’ll get brave or crazy enough to voluntarily introduce fecal coliform bacteria into my body. Today is not that day.