Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE RIPPLE EFFECT: From the Lips of Tanzania

Water is precious.


In the heart of the bustling Dar es Salaam, even the white-beach shores and clear teal-ocean lapping at the Zanzibar shores, there is a secret. The secret is kept by many locals. And, many of the tourists know nothing of this secret. It has to do with water.

You see, in the midst of the Tanzanian heat, especially in the height of tourist season (December through January) the heat of the sun is crippling. Dehydration leaves countless tourists cuddling mosquito nets in the midst of their hostel or hotel room hoping the exhaustion will go away with a bottle of… water! Tourists eat extravagant sea food meals, feeling safe with their bottles of water, treasuring the cool feeling it lends the throat. Tourists bring bottles of water with them to all the offered excursions: swimming with dolphins in the sea, diving, going to the beach, going to old St. Monica’s, going to the market… just about everything. And, yet, so many tourists, even the most cautious, get sick. 

"I've drank so much water," an Italian tourist told me, "All bottled, to stay hydrated and away from the tap water. But, I still feel like shit! My stomach just won't stop hurting." 

So, what’s the secret of the water? And, why are tourists still getting sick? What do most of the locals know that the tourists remain oblivious to?

Most of the bottled water, appearing to be safe and sound—drinkable-- is actually tap water. Water peddlers, many of which are unsatisfied with the local tap water (which is florescent and oily in appearence), use a syringe to pull out the pure water from bottled water. And, so that they can still make money and sell them, they replace the pure water with tap water using the syringe to inject it. You can tell when there is a circular, raised bump on the bottom of the bottle as though someone burned a tiny hole to make sure it did not leak. For that is what they do; they use a cigarette lighter, or what have you, and burn the plastic so that the hole is sealed. There is already a small bump at the bottom of most water bottles. This is OK. But, when you see another, almost target like and rough bump beside or on top of the normal bump on the bottom of the bottle? Don’t drink it. You might not get sick, sure. But, it’s not worth the risk. Unfortunately, although this sounds too intricate a process to be widely replicated, on most Tanzanian water bottles you can surely find the syringe mark. At times it is discouraging because you will go from stand to stand and you will not find a normal one until an hour or two goes by. The brand Mount Kilimanjaro Water almost always has the marking. Other brands, however, like Zan Aqua, still have the marking sometimes but less so.  

Tampered with: 

Bottles with the syringe mark. You can see that when the mark is on the bump it is difficult to spot. But if you look closely and are careful, it is unmistakable. Unfortunately, sometimes the water bottle is cheaply made and it is quite difficult to tell whether or not a bump is due to the manufacturing quality or tampering.  But, if the mark is indeed not in the center as it typically would be found, this is a sure indicator that it has been tampered with and should be avoided. 

Two normal shots as a water bottle should be found: 

Zan Aqua Water Bottle:

Women in the World and the Ripple Effect Section, Sasha Martin:

I made my own major, The Nature of Emotion as investigated through literature, psychology, anthropology, cognitive science and other interdisciplinary fields, and am minoring in Creative Writing. I created Unleashed for the general empowerment and knowledge of women and men everywhere, and continue to be involved as editor, designer and writer. I am an editorial and PR intern for City Lights. I happen to love the Unleashed staff quite dearly, as well as readers like you. It's amazing what words can do! Feel free to email me at Unleashed. I hope you enjoy! 

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