Saturday, 21 January 2012

Can You Drink the Tap Water in Riyadh?

Newcomers to the city ask, "Can you drink the tap water in Riyadh?"  My response - Yes and no.  The day I arrived Hubby told me not to drink the tap I turned on the tap to have a little taste and see what it was like.


After hubby gave me his soundless tsk, tsk shake of the head action that says "don't you belive anything I say?  why do I bother talking"  and I respond with "is there a problem??", he regaled me with a tale of water illness.  Not his water illness.  The guy upstairs.

This gentleman had only been in Riyadh a short while and became sick as with debilitating symptoms. (Sick as what?  Just sick as!)  Apparently the doctor said, "Have you been drinking water from the tap?  Don't drink the water from the tap."  This advice was duly passed on to other compound residents and Hubster has taken it to heart.

So, based on a tale of someone else's illness, and excluding the water in which my cafe bought coffee is dissolved which, for some unfathomable reason I presume is OK because it's coffee and it's boiled at high temps, and of course the coffee and tea served up at friends homes (they fill the jug from the faucet), I do not drink Riyadhs tap water.  Not for making my tea or coffee at home or for boiling my pasta.

The thought has crossed my mind that I'm being silly, but I dismiss that rapidly, particularly as the musculature in my nether regions that specifically supports the back exit have real issues containing sudden watery gushes from the bowel accompanied by abdominal spasm.   Being caught short is not pleasant! Something I learnt on a European excursion some moons ago.

There is a rumour that some compounds put their water through an extra filtration process.   If it's true, ours is not one of those.  Our water gets pumped into header tanks and falls, with excellent pressure I must add, to our taps.

We just don't drink it.  We drink bottled water.  Big, small and in between bottles of water. 

We even fill our iron with bottled water.  If not, each time I push the Puff of Steam button globs of salt spray out on the shirt I'm ironing.  It probably doesn't do the clothes any harm, it's just somewhat annoying.

It used to be a hassle carrying all those bottles from the supermarket, particularly as we drink a lot of water, then the couple who lived next door to the guy upstairs moved out. We bought their water cooler. Fabulous.

Nestle and Al Manhal both deliver the large bottles, or rather employ some burly chaps from foreign lands to bring the water right to my door, and the cost is minimal.

Now I have to be careful I won't suffer from some form of plastic poisoning because I'm one of those terrible people who refills the little plastic bottles of water at least a couple of times before biffing them. 

Mr Noor is often requested to pull into a dairy to buy a bottle of water because I've run out whilst being carted about town in back of his taxi.  He never lets me go in on my own.  Never.  I tried once, he overtook me running.  Given that the place had blokes hangin' out the shop door with eyes definitely not being averted as I abaya flapped my way over, it is probably just as well.

If you walk the Riyadh back streets, particularly in the inner city, you come across drinking water stations.  I have never felt the urge to utilise them.  Workers, on the other hand, use them frequently.  Buying bottled water is not in their budget.

I shy away from these stations.  Call me whatever name you want, but locking lips around a fountain nozzle that has been used by someone of questionble origin and health status is not my thing.  I'm just not thirsty enough for that on my hikoi (maori word for long walk) around town.

Can you drink the tap water in Riyadh?  People do, I'm just not one of them.

Ka Kite,

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