My parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday, something I could really use in my rented home in Seville, Spain. They were probably thinking area rug, toaster, mini vacuum, or set of dishes. I promptly replied: a water filtration system for the kitchen sink. If I had been physically present, I would have seen some blank stares. “I am not kidding,” I would have said and I would pull out a photo with some tiny writing below in Spanish.
Let me backtrack for a moment and tell you why I want such a “luxury” item in my humble abode. You can buy bottled water, of course, and when you cook with tap water, it is boiled. So what is all the fuss? Yes, it adds up when you buy water. Such a natural element of life should be free, or libre as we say here. If I had a personal water filtration system connected to my tap, I wouldn’t have to tote the bottles every day, day after day, from the little shop around the corner. It gets tiresome.
My left arm is beginning to ache. That’s the one I use to handle my backpack when it is full of bottles of water. People say the water in some countries is fine, such as Spain, but I take no chances. I think they are referring to people who grow up on the stuff and are immune to the myriad of impurities. I just don’t want to gulp them down.
I know that it is simpler to have a filtration device that attaches to a vessel of water, kind of like the Brita system which works quite well. There are some portable ones great for travel. A charcoal filter is used to produce crystal clear, tasteless water. But cleaning the Brita jug is time consuming and unpleasant, what with all the residue that accumulates. I want one of those faucet water filters on my sink so that I can cook with it, wash my hands and hair, drink it, and feed it to the neighborhood cat who comes abegging every once in a while. Plus I can take it with me when I leave.
You may be asking, is it worth it? I answer with a resounding yes. The type of system I am thinking of isn’t expensive, and if it is from my parents, it will be virtually cost free to me. So calculating the savings in buying bottled water, it will pay for itself in about a month. Because it came gratis, I will have an extra of ten dollars per week or forty per month that I can save – or spend. With this money, I have plans. I can buy a train ticket to France and tour the countryside in search of Gothic cathedrals. I can visit one of the world class ski resorts in Switzerland, or I can eat pasta overlooking the Amalfi Coast. I can drive to Andorra, stopping off to see the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. I can go to Gibraltar and see the rock.
I can come up with lots of non-travel ideas for my forty dollars a month as well. I would love to buy leather shoes made in Spain, and a gorgeous handbag to match. A leather jacket or coat would be a major splurge, and a big treat. I can buy gifts for my family to distribute upon my return. I can buy wine for friends and host dinner parties or see a bullfight and some flamenco dancing.
I am not at a loss for words when it comes to extra money. When you live abroad, you want to make the most of the experience. I thought about what to do to cut corners, and saving on bottled water was my best bet. I am poised for new opportunities that will come as a result.