Saturday, March 18, 2006

It matters everywhere else but here

I have searched the NYT for news on the International Water Forum taking place in Mexico City, to no avail. Haven't found any. However, breaking news on the front page: designer Oleg Cassini is dead at the age of 92.
If you really want to know what is happening in the world, better go with the BBC. They have like six articles just on this topic. And they are not even close to Mexico.
I first learned that Mexico City was having said forum because my sister, Pequeña Enchilada, told me she could not get out of her house. Due to the conference, Mexico City's authorities had closed important avenues, creating even more absolute gridlock than there already is in that impossible city. On top of that, one could expect the proverbial marches that routinely paralyze the city creating eternal road rage on every Mexico City driver, and I mean everyone.
She also said that it was hot as hell in Mexico City, which I have noticed is a current trend, no doubt attributable to global warming, which as you know is George Bush's fault. When I was growing up there, Mexico City had really temperate weather. I don't remember heat waves of any kind. But in recent years it has gotten hotter. And there is no air conditioning anywhere because it has not been really needed until now. Many people think that Mexico City's weather is that of a tropical paradise. They are quite mistaken. Mexico City has high altitude and very dry weather. There is almost no humidity and the weather, environmental catasrophes notwithstanding, is quite mild. There are 2 seasons -- rain and no rain. Rainy season goes from about June to September. The rest of the year is very mild, except for cold spells in the winter months. So if you are planning to visit Mexico City, besides your Hawaiian shirt and your shorts, you may want to bring a jacket or a sweater. It's chilly in the mornings.
(I love talking about weather. For a while I was glued to the Weather Channel every day. Fascinated to know what the weather was like in Topeka.)
In any case, there is a big global conference on water, or actually lack thereof. According to the BBC,

Many of Mexico City's inhabitants get by on just one hour of running water per week.

And, most people consider the city's tap water to be undrinkable - though water officials say it is now safe to drink - so Mexico has become the second-highest consumer of bottled drinking water in the world.

One hour of running water per week. That of course, only happens to the poor, who happen to be a lot of people. But the rich have water tsuris too. There are frequent shortages, even in the toniest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, here we are too busy wasting every resource known to man as if they are giving them away to even think that there is a problem with water supplies in the world.
Now, I must say something about the drinkability of Mexico City's tap water. It makes Mexicans immune to all kinds of bacteria, which is why, when tourists come, they tend to fall prey to Moctezuma's Revenge. They simply don't have the antibodies to fight what Mexicans coexist with in precarious harmony every day. I remember tap water being quite tasty in Mexico (a whiff of rusty metal, a tinge of sulphur), but it's been years since I dared have a glass. However, I'm not as crazy as some people who will not brush their teeth with it or go into the shower with their mouths shut tight. That is absurd.
I'm very proud when we Mexicans can boast of being the best at something:

With a population of more than 20 million people, and dwindling water supplies, the Mexican capital is a stark example of the severe water supply issues facing many of the world's rapidly developing mega-cities.

The parched ground crunches beneath your feet as you walk through the Texcoco area on the outskirts of the city. The bleached, cracked terrain stretches out in all directions. Nothing can grow here.

It is very difficult to imagine that, just 70 years ago, this area was filled with water. This was one of five lakes that used to enrich the Mexico City valley.

Today, in a prime example of what more than a century of water mismanagement can do, they have all but disappeared.

Population growth, the over-exploitation of subterranean aquifers, and a failure to recycle limited water supplies have turned a once-fertile region into a barren desert.

The BBC goes on to explain that while London recycles 90% of its water, Mexico City, recycles only 10%.

At one of the city's few sewage treatment plants, a pungent smell fills the air.

The manager of the site says that they manage to process half a cubic metre of waste per second.

However, he points out that the metropolis produces 50 cubic metres per second.

Less than 10% of Mexico City's waste water is recycled, compared with London where that figure is more than 90%. Most rain water is also lost.

So people in Mexico City are obsessed with rampant crime, but it's a good thing this conference will add another very real problem they can be completely paranoid about.

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