Water is a big issue in Portugal and Spain, similar to the Southwest of the US.

  • There’s been a continual drought. All the rivers seemed low.
  • We biked through huge agricultural expanses, especially orange groves, sucking the aquifers dry. There was also almonds, olives, and avocados groves.
  • The southern coast is full of resorts and golf courses. And it’s biggering. High-rises were going up everywhere.
  • Most restaurants insist that you buy bottled water and refuse to offer tap. We got a ten-minute lecture from a restaurateur in Lagos when we tried to bring in our own water bottles (people often carry around their own water bottles in Arizona). He explained that there is a government-sanctioned clean-water certificate mafia that makes restaurants pay for water stations. If they don’t sell bottled water, they can’t pay for these stations.
  • Even though Portugal has boasted that their water infrastructure had been upgraded and tap water is safe, If you ask for it at a restaurant, the staff will not only refuse, but they’ll think you’ve gone mad. We got all kinds of reasons not to drink tap water. It smells, it’s unclean, it has too much limestone. We did occasionally drink it, and the chlorine was obvious, but we had no problems.