One of the things that sets Costa Rica apart from many other Latin American countries is the almost universal access to clean drinking water. After the last revolution firmly established democracy in the country in 1948, the government set about ensuring the basic necessities-health care, education and fresh drinking water. Every community throughout the country is obligated to establish civilian water commissions which have exclusive powers to tap natural sources of fresh spring water and deliver it to residents in the community. When we built our home here El Castillo en Las Nubes we made sure we had we had water rights. As it turned out, the water was destined to come from a high mountain spring five kilometers up the mountain in the jungle. Trouble was, as the first house in our enclave, no one had ever gotten around to connecting us the system.
After a protracted negotiation, we eventually agreed to cover the cost of bringing the water three kilometers down the mountain to the waiting reservoir, and then another two kilometers along the road to our front door. Ultimately, we agreed to cover the cost in exchange for a moratorium on the water fees we would normally be expected to pay. At today’s rates, we have free water for just under 100 years. At the time, the $6500 fee seemed an exorbitant expense, but after two years of turning on the tap to fresh, clean spring water we have come to appreciate what we have. Our friend in Barrie, Dr. Steve Rallis, who combines chiropractic with naturopathy keeps telling me how lucky we are to have a nearly endless supply of pure spring water- the same water we used to pay a buck or two a bottle for at home. I like to keep a pitcher of water from the tap in the fridge and find that (apart from beer) it’s the only beverage I need here in El Castillo.
Every day I’m in this home, I think about how lucky I am to have access to water that is free from chlorine or chemical contamination and that it nearly always flows from the taps. I say nearly, because as we have come to discover, the plastic pipe that carries it through the jungle is vulnerable to animals and rodents who periodically cut the supply advertently or inadvertently. However, after we completed the installation, the chair of the local water commission connected to our feed and when our water is out, his is too. We rarely wait more than a few hours for service to be restored.