#WaterStories: ANDREA IAROC

#WaterStories is inspired by the work of the Town Creek Foundation; this series seeks to demonstrate that being connected to and concerned about the water near your home is a human instinct. In the wake of the Flint, MI disaster, the California droughts, and the historically poor water quality on First Nations reservations throughout America, now is the time to raise our voices about water and our overall wellness.

Water. Agua. Aqua. מים.
In water I think better, rest better, love better, die better.

I am a very good swimmer by training but also because I spent many childhood hours swimming in Andean rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. I love to row and get lost in the sound of my oars hitting the water — pushing it away. A triple Cancer, I love the full moon on water bodies and the gravitational forces that manipulate the tides. As a water sign I seem to have a placating effect, if not an outright dampening effect, on people and situations. Like water shaping itself into a glass bowl or a riverbank, rusting iron and putting out fire, I am a highly adaptable person with a very strong character not suspected on first contact.

Like the ocean, my rogue waves seem unpredictable but there is a reason living in the depths of my heart. Like shallow waters, I cannot lie very well or hide things … I am very transparent. My womb is like a rainforest with a water fountain only I know the secrets of.

I was born in a now-defunct hospital on the west side of Brooklyn. The maternity ward on the seventh floor looked over the Upper Bay of the Hudson River. I was raised in a valley between the Occidental and Central Mountains of the Andes, six hours east of the Pacific Ocean. I swam in lakes, rivers, and the Olympic-sized pool of my school. In my teenage years I lived in Miami, where the warm Caribbean Sea bathed my body and cocooned me when I submerged in it. To this day, it is the one thing I deeply miss. I almost drowned at age five and then again at age thirteen. In the moments before all consciousness is lost, it gets really peaceful. If I had to die on accident, I would choose drowning.

Colombia is the only country in South America to have coasts touching both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. We have the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, the Magdalena and Cauca rivers among many others. They are not well cared of by the government, greedy companies, or the people who are not educated enough to understand the consequences of contamination. The water bodies of my rainforest and desert, mountainous and beachy country suffer constant neglect.

And yet, in a developed country like the States, I have to worry about the chemicals in the everyday water I use.

As a person who needs to drink at least 2 liters of water a day, this can be worrisome. But my first-world-light-weight plight is nothing compared to what people in my third country have to go through. Israel does not share water, among many things, easily. The great progress in understanding and developing hydrology in the region has done nothing to help solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank. California eagerly works with Israeli hydrologists to help solve the state’s water crisis and future, but my pride in Israel’s successful scientific endeavors stops at my humanitarian need for reassurance.

When will we do things better?

Contested water bodies, politicized and divided in never ending wars plaguing mother Earth.

When will it stop?

I want this blue marble to be clear, clean, pure, and accessible to all creatures. Humans decide what species are non-indigenous, a threat to the native environment, but do not recognize when they have overstepped the boundaries and claimed territory they clearly don’t belong in. Water is a fundamental need for living beings in this planet — it should not be owned by any one party to be sold for profit.

I will rest on the fact that of the four elements of earth, water is the most powerful.

One day …

Andrea Iaroc is an art historian and museum professional who lives in Seattle, WA.