How do you see water as life-giving?

February 25, 2015 – By Clare Esler, Ecoloodi Volunteer

In January 2011, I spent six months in rural Nicaragua interning for an Eco-Hotel and Spanish School called La Mariposa. During my time here, the preservation and conservation of water was taught to me by way of lifestyle, observation and practical education. It was an experience that I’ll never forget that woke me up to water as sacred and alive!

Nicaragua is called the land of lakes and volcanoes

Water and Ecosystems

The Spanish school, La Mariposa, was proud to promote the conservation of the ecosystem through many activities including organic farming and the preservation of nature. Set in the middle of a tropical forest, the school was surrounded with nature in all its glory-tanager birds flying from branch to branch, chickens roaming through the outdoor dining room packed with guests, butterflies fluttering around throughout the day, palm and guanacaste trees swaying in the wind, and fluorescent green geckos climbing up the walls. Water was of course, key to keeping all of these species alive.

The Water Crisis and Daily Routines in Rural Nicaragua

Sadly, to this day, Nicaragua’s aquifer struggles to fill up to its maximum. The country faces a number of devastating issues including sweat shops that rely on water for making clothing and massive deforestation causing erosion.

Nicaragua's water resources are drying up

After some time, I began to notice how this water crisis affected my daily routine as well, mainly the act of showering. As someone from Canada who grew up privileged enough to have twenty minute long hot showers, I was breathless when I was shown the bucket shower and how it was ‘operated’. Water arrived to households from the municipality by hose and was poured into large blue barrels every week. Within a floor to wall-tiled stall with just enough room to stand in my flip flops, I would douse myself with a bucket of warm or hot water, boiled every day by my host family. I began to consciously take shorter showers with my one bucket of water and realized how little I actually needed to use. During the hot and dry season, the temperatures were scorching and eventually cold bucket showers became the one thing I looked forward to after a long day of hard work. The experience of showering became a blessed thing!

Beyond showers, I never thought I would find myself boasting about the amazing qualities of a toilet, but indeed I did as I gave monthly tours to newly arriving guests of the hotel’s facilities, including their latrine. Latrines are amazing things – they require no water, they are made of clay that keep them cool and clean. Like the one at La Mariposa, they can easily be built in a cute little bamboo stall–eco-friendly, private and cozy!

There is hope…

I have never lived by the seasons as consciously as I did in Nicaragua and I have never truly appreciated rainfall as much as I did sitting with my tea, huddled in the dining room, watching it pour ferociously over giant palm trees. I quickly began to make the connection between that rainfall and its life-giving importance for all species.

I hope humanity continues to build communities, ecosystems and facilities across the planet just like these ones, which demonstrate how truly life giving water is. I support education on how precious water is, do you?

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