When people think of Christmas, they usually imagine a Snowy postcard image, with Reindeers, snowmen, and people wearing winter clothes. Even if you look for Christmas clothes, you’ll find they are always sweaters – like the infamous ugly Christmas sweater -, scarfs, beanies, etc. It is not as you can find tank tops or flip flops with Christmassy designs.
As you already know, there is a South hemisphere that will have a very sunny and in-the-middle of summer Christmas. This geolocalization does not ruin Christmas for us. We still pretend to put fake snow around our trees and Christmas decorations. There are still polyethylene foam snowmen decorating the main squares and parks of the city.
However, this Holiday Season has been different in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The city where I live. We’ve experienced one of the worst droughts ever. And water shortage has been the biggest concern of our lives. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t literally pray and wish for rain. It has indeed rained a couple of times this month, but it has not been enough. Valleys and rivers are drying. Wild animals and crops are dying as a consequence. The local government is trying to pull off a couple of solutions, but nobody knows if these projects (dams and tunnels built to bring water from other places) will be sustainable solutions in the long term. We need the rain. Global warming is a fact, and we’re experimenting the consequences.
For Cochabambinos – people from my city – appreciating this resource has become part of our lives. We’ve learned the lesson. We try to save as much as we can and spend as less as possible. I take showers as fast as possible. I don’t let water be wasted. I only wash the necessary clothes and only when needed. Most Cochabambinos cannot bear seeing people wasting water: like car washers that don’t recycle water or other unneeded uses of water.
I had relatives visiting a couple of weeks: my aunt and my uncle, both from Santa Cruz, a city in Bolivia that has no problems with water. Although, they are aware of the shortage of water in this city, their behavior towards water is different from ours. You don’t wash a dish in several minutes, you do it fast. If you buy fruit, you don’t clean them one by one, you save water from the tap by washing them all at once. Of course, it is not their fault, but my aunt and uncle will be far from understanding the meaning of saving water, unless they move over here.
Unfortunately, you learn to appreciate a natural resource only when there is a lack or shortage of it. When probably it is too late. And similar to my aunt and uncle who only live a city away from mine, other people in the world won’t be able to understand this problem until they experiment it. Whoever that does not pay attention to Climate change is really lost.
This is Christmas. It is nice. But if it were raining, it would be the best Christmas ever for me.