Well the windy season is fastly approaching here in Queretaro, which only means one thing: time for the cold showers. I have taken about 15 cold showers since I have arrived to Queretaro about 5 months ago. When I first arrived, we were on a kind of a water shortage.
Let me first explain how household water supplies work here. City water lines are not highly pressurized like they are in the States, so what happens is that most homes have a ground-level cistern that water trickles into from the public supply. From there, a pump carries the water up to a tank on the roof and gravity brings the water back down to the various faucets and showerheads in the home. It works pretty well that way when there’s a steady supply from the city.Right now at my house, water only comes every other day, and when it comes, it’s only a slow stream that doesn’t have much chance of filling a cistern or a rooftop tank. So we’ve got a whole bunch of plastic garbage bins, buckets and washtubs that we fill from the outside line on water days. Then we use that water a bucket at a time to wash the dishes, fill the toilet tank, do laundry by hand, and take a bath. We do have a shower head in the bathroom, but the water hasn’t been making it up to the roof so it’s out of commission at the moment. But even if it was working, there’s no hot water heater in this house so it would be a cold water shower anyway.
In a way, it’s kind of fun. It’s sort of like camping. And since it’s really hot here right now, I don’t mind pouring plastic cups of cold water over my head every morning. Still, when you’re hauling water back and forth to the kitchen to do your dishes, or when the stored water runs out before the end of a non-water day, it does really make you appreciate how nice a reliable public water supply is.
On the subject of water, Mexicans have a unusual way of using the word agua. If someone shouts “aguas!” at you, they’re not asking you for a couple of bottles of water, they’re saying “heads up!” or “look out!” I learned this the hard way while playing ultimate frisbee last saturday in Queretaro 2000. During the game, I was playing running withoug looking when someone yelled “aguas!” at me. As I turned to say “no, thanks, I’m not thirsty, but maybe later,” a flying frisbee came crashing to the ground just a few inches from my head.
The history of the "aguas" I have been told comes from back when they used to throw water on people during a saint celebration. The children used to yell "aguas" to warn other of the oncoming water. I guess it worked, cause now we use "aguas" in place of "cuidado"