Puedo tomar agua?
Can I drink the water? This is one of the first questions asked, and because you are not accustomed to the water in Mexico, it is recommended not to drink water out of a tap unless you are certain it is purified. It is also better to drink potable (purified) water, so when staying in a hotel, don’t assume the water of the tap is purified. On the other hand, we also recommend that you brush your teeth with purified water.
Most of the restaurants in the Lake Chapala area (and also in the coastal areas) serve purified water. They buy the big five liter bottles and serve it by the glass (el vaso de agua), or you can order it in the bottle (una botella de agua purificada, por favor). You will find that many restaurants serve what is called “Agua de fruta” – fruit drink made from fruit and water. These are absolutely delicious! Also most of the restaurants will serve ice made from purified water. If the ice served is cylinder shaped with a hole through the middle, it was made in the same factories that produce and bottle purified water and it is safe to drink (by LAW ice must be purified).
Drinking Water at Home
For the last decade many of the developers in the area have been including a purification system for water (or at least the rough in to allow you to add it yourself) in the new homes they construct. Then you can safely drink from the tap. If you are renting a house and you aren’t certain the water from the tap is purified, always buy the big containers of water. Water trucks deliver all over the Lakeside so just ask your neighbors when they come. You can also boil the water (about 40 minutes) to remove any contaminates or use the Microdine drops (about 30 minutes).
Note: We have on occasion met people who will bring one suitcase full of bottled water and canned goods. It is not only not necessary but it would be a crime not to try the wonderful selection of Mexican foods and drinks available. You need to use common sense and certainly we don’t recommend you eat from the street vendors before you have lived here awhile and acclimatized. Even then, be cautious, especially in the spring when it is hotter. You don’t know how long the food has been sitting or if they have proper washing facilities. But there are lots of good restaurants serving well cleaned and prepared food. So don’t worry.