It is true, “Don’t drink the water in Mexico”, the TAP water that is. No one drinks it. Here is a little inside scoop on my personal routine of obtaining the “liquid of life” in Mexico.
Tourists have nothing to worry about. Purified water is easily accessible in rental properties and hotels. On the other hand, for locals, if you have a car and the build of a Pro Football Player, you can easily get your large bottles of drinking water at any grocery or most quick marts. For the rest of us, the darn things are heavy! You really don’t want to carry one very far unless you are training for the Olympics.
One of the things we locals have to contend with is listening for the “water guys”. There are 2 companies that sell water in Playa del Carmen, Electropura and Cristal. The vendors circulate throughout the neighborhoods on tricycle carts or a company truck, selling water. The best part is that they each have their own style of melodic warning to let you know they are near by if you need a refill. I tend to buy from the guys on tricycle carts because it feels good to lighten their load that they are peddling around. As they ride around, they blurt out with their personalized inflection, “A-G-U-A-A-A-A!” (water) usually rotating in the name of the company they represent… ” E-L-E-C-T-R-O-P-U-R-A-A-A!”
One of the challenges is catching them when they are on your street.
If you are low on drinking water and happen to be in the shower with a thick lather of shampoo on your head when you happen to hear the water guy calling outside… if desperate, you may chose to jump out of the shower and run to the closest window and shout back, “AGUA!!!” This is the signal to them that you need a bottle and they promptly bring the water to your door.
Meet Hermenegildo Sanchez Ramiro, MY WATER GUY who always keeps me well stocked on water. He uses an old squeeze horn that he beeps in between his personalized shout out of… “A-G-U-A-A-A-A!”.If you have an empty bottle to exchange, it costs $21 pesos (Less than $2 US). If you do not have a bottle to exchange, it costs around $70 pesos (Less than $7 US).
I have been lucky to devise a system with Hermenegildo so that I never run out of water. I have 3 bottles so that I always have a full back-up. I put my empty bottle outside my door with coins inside along with a small tip and he replaces it even when I am not at home. It works like a charm. He usually makes 2 rounds a day through my neighborhood.
A “water guy” is a part of life here. No one drinks the tap water here. But don’t worry, you will NOT find a restaurant in Playa del Carmen that would serve someone tap water. Even if it comes in a glass, I can assure you it came from a bottle. Business owners would never want a visitor to have a bad experience. We are all proud of this country and want visitors to enjoy themselves. But if you are still concerned, just ask for bottled water (botella de agua). Also know that the ice is always made with good purified bottled water as well. Another common question I have been asked by visitors is, “Do you brush your teeth with bottled water?” For the record, I have always brushed my teeth with the tap water and I am still alive but, if concerned you can always have bottled water by the sink.
I have to admit that the sounds of the streets in Mexico are something I truly cherish. If they ever replaced some of these vendors with more sophisticated methods, it would be disappointing. In addition to the water vendors, other familiar sounds on the local streets are the gas trucks that sell tanks of natural gas. They have a “Gas song” that blares from a speaker on the truck. I think most locals could sing the gas song or at least hum the tune if asked. The knife sharpener guy has a beautiful whistle that he uses to let people know he is available for sharpening. Although I have never used him to sharpen a knife, I love the sound of his flute-like whistle that he uses to promote himself. Life in Mexico! – Sherry
Note: After posting this and discussing it with local friends, some told me that they do not brush their teeth with the tap water. I did not want to imply that my choice to do so was necessarily typical. I will also add that as a general rule in Mexico for the local Mexicans and foreigners alike, we are recommended to take a de-parasite/lombrices pill every 6 months as a part of general health maintenance. If you visit Mexico and desire to take a similar treatment, they are easily found over the counter here. Daxon and Vermox are two names of brands you could buy.