Running out of Water


There’s very little water to be found walking on the high ridge of the Langeberg mountain. Typically we take water from streams or pools but now we find very few. The distance between water grows. We start stocking up on water, something we never had to do along the Rim of Africa. Typically water is easy to find and there is no need to carry bottled water, just carry a mug or scoop to drink from. Bottled water becomes a collective item as some people are able to carry more than others but happy to share it out. But even this becomes unsustainable. We need to find more water.

The small trickles of water are the answer. The water in the photo below hardly makes a sound as it trickles out of the earth along an exposed rock, only to disappear into the mud at the bottom of the rock. I place my wooden scooping spoon in the trickle, and even though the spoon is small it doesn’t fill instantly. I take a sip and replace it. Again. Again. Again. Taking water sip by sip is time consuming, tiring, but all we have.

drinking from water mountains

Don’t do this.¬†Drinking from stagnant water, with growth, dead flies, and who knows what else is dangerous. But for us, it is all we have. I prefer using my spoon to scoop water over slurping. When drinking directly from the puddle, knees and hands on the rock, lips puckered into your best impression of a straw, you can’t see the water directly under you. This may be for the best, but also provides a risk for accidentally disturbing the muck in the bottom of the puddle or sipping some floating dead thing. I write from experience.

drinking from water mountain puddles

It was fascinating watching each individual in the group slowly relent from hesitating from taking water from these puddles. No one was eager to drink this water. There was a threshold somewhere. A line had to be crossed, and I guess the question was “how thirsty am I?” “how long can I continue?” Filling up with drinking and cooking water at the end of the day was difficult, done just like this. There was no other option.

We had left the rain and clouds (thank goodness they had passed by here and leave us the puddles) and we were now in a world of dryness.