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Apr 9, 2013

What About the Water?

Today is a “serious” blog entry, as many people have asked me about the water.  When we first got here, at the place where we are staying, the owner said they drink water from the tap.  So I did.  Wrong move.  I had serious intestinal problems for a couple of days.  It really knocked my energy and attitude out of sorts.  It was actually my sister that said I should probably boil the water for drinking.  So I began that day and have been using either bottled or boiled water everyday.

When Kris and I stayed in town for 4 days, (staying in the mansion, remember?), we found an interesting booklet that Primeir Real Estate provides to people coming to San Miguel.  You have to remember that this is the desert.  Water is an issue.  It’s actually one of the big things we are weighing when thinking about retiring here.  There is one thing without which we humans cannot survive and that’s water!

They have precious little of it here in the desert town of San Miguel, and it is not safe to drink – no matter if some people tell you it is!  The booklet I mentioned has this to say:

There is a lot to be said for “Don’t drink the water!”  It is best not to even brush your teeth with it. The doctors suggest that you (or really, the maid) bring a pot of water to a boil and let it boil for 30 minutes, and let it cool for drinking, coffee, tea, ice, etc.  If you want to order water by the 5 gallon jug call ….[and the name and phone number for ordering it, plus the price are given].

I was told by Mexicans and Expats alike not to drink it.  To purchase drinking water that has been purified is not particularly expensive, so why run the risk of getting sick?

I also found a couple of great quotes on Yahoo’s question and answer page which I include here too:
In answer to the question “Do Mexicans drink the water from the tap?” here are two very good replies:

NO ONE drinks tap water. Everyone drinks bottled water. You cannot become immune to viruses, amoebas, parasites, and lead poisoning. Mexican people do get sick from tap water just like Americans do. Bottled water is delivered to homes and sold in every store. Restaurants use it, hotels use it. I have been in many Mexican homes, and they all used bottled water.

NO we don’t. There is a very good service of bottled water, trucks bring 20 lt. bottles home, they ring every bell and sell the water at least twice a week.  We can also buy it at supermarkets, convenient stores, drugstores, everywhere!  Nobody drinks the water from the tap.

You might wonder why I’m even talking about this.  It’s not one of those “feel good” topics.  I don’t have great pictures to show you.  However, there is a need for us to be aware that the only water we have is the only water we have!  The earth is not manufacturing water at the same speed at which we are consuming it.  There is a limited amount of fresh water on the planet which would normally serve us well as the watersheds do their job when it rains or snows and then runs into the rivers and so on.

But we have this idea that we can unendingly use it up, waste it, and pay no attention to the seriousness of things like dirty water from fracking or nuclear fallout.  (I am astounded to learn how much Fukishima has affected water all over the northern hemisphere.)  We wonder why cancer rates are higher, and why children suffer more terrible conditions and illnesses, and why our immune systems can be so compromised.  In part it is because we drink too little pure water, and the water we think is so pure is not necessarily so.  It happens because those in control of things that are said and done, keep raising the “safe” limits on so many things we encounter.

No, this is not a soapbox speech!  But boiling my water every day to drink, and having to use boiled water even to brush my teeth has certainly given me pause as to how much I waste, how much I use, and how much I really need.  That’s all.  Just reminders for us never to take fresh, pure water for granted!

Water Pouring from Bottle



  • That was a truly beautiful end to a very nice blog post.

    Mayer spending the last five months in various places in Mexico, today in San Miguel de Allende I was given warm water in a glass at two different restaurants.

    I have not had any tap water in all this time, and don’t know if those two glasses were tap water or purified, but became curious so I googled if the water here is purified or not (I heard Guadalajara’s city water is, so I wasn’t sure about San Miguel).

    Love your take though. Thanks!

    • If you were served water anywhere in San Miguel de Allende, the water was very likely not from the tap. Even the Mexicans do not drink it from the tap. And if you didn’t get sick, that was the best measure. I can’t imagine them serving you water from the tap though. It’s just not the norm. Thank you for you compliment on the blog.

  • Definitely do NOT drink the water in San Miguel de Allende!

    You should also ALWAYS wash the produce you buy before you put in in the fridge and use it–including organic. I’ve had nausea and Montezuma’s revenge for 8 days now and I think it’s winding down!

    We’re in SMdA for four months from Jun 1 thru Sep 30th and today it’s June 18th. I’ve had diarrhea for eight days so far and stomach/nausea too. Bring Imodium with you but you can buy it here.

    The altitude is 6,500′ and that affects you too. Cobblestones are treacherous and you MUST wear comfortable shoes. It is not called “The City of Fallen Women” for nothing!

    Take taxis because they are cheap and save your energy for walking around when you get where you’re dropped off. Taxis are 25-30 pesos; local buses are 5 pesos O/W & run ALL the time.

    Lovely, historic city but it IS still Mexico. Dogs roam the streets and loads of “rooftop” dogs, litter abounds, pot holes, hills, beggars, sewer smells, etc.

    Other than that, we’re having a good time.

    • One of the reasons we didn’t settle in SMA was because the altitude affected me so much. It is such a lovely place — we ate good food and enjoyed walking around the town. Very cool place. Sorry for the difficulties with your innards. It is no fun, that’s for sure. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog!

  • Planning to visit sma in October 2016. Have questions as to what is best airport to fly into from San Francisco? Also best transportation to take to get to town? Some good hotels to stay? And my question about the water has been answered, just like visiting other Mexico sights, don’t drink the water!!!!!
    Thank you for your help….

    • If you are asking about the best place to fly into to head to San Miguel de Allende, I would recommend Leon International. But since I don’t live there now, and since I’m living in Uruguay, I can’t answer that question from an up-to-date point of view. I haven’t been back to Mexico since 2013. Since water is a very important consideration for us and since we drink a very large amount of it, we wanted to be where that was not an issue. It is no issue in Uruguay, or at least very little of an issue. We live where we have a deep and wonderful tasting well water!

  • What about eating produce at the restaurants in San Miguel? Is that okay or no good either?

    Thank you

    • We were there in 2013, but we ate in restaurants and did drink the water and eat produce. Why? Because no sane Mexican would ever drink water from the tap. They only drink bottled or purified water in establishments. But we always asked for bottled water and it was always quickly provided with no question whatsoever. We did eat the salads; certainly we ate plenty of produce. But the key here is to know your own body. If you travel a lot and eat and drink in many places, then eating in San Miguel will most likely not be a problem. But the truth is we did have an issue with the water because we drink a lot. And not to be able to even use it to brush your teeth??? So we moved to Uruguay instead where you really can drink the water out of the tap. I can’t help you too much on San Miguel now because we haven’t been back since 2013. Hunt around on some of the other expat forums and see if you can come up with answers to your questions. I think what you’ll find is that the answers will be all over the place. Be sure to take PeptoBismol with you in any case! ha ha ha

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