Since Christmas just three rains have fallen on Bogota. But not one drop has touched the city's reservoir, 15 miles away at Regadera (which means "shower bath" in Spanish). Intimidated by the brassy skies, duly alarmed by the nearly empty "shower bath," local authorities last week urged all Bogotanos to get out of town if they possibly could. Some water mains were already dry. Schools were beginning to close down. Washing an automobile was declared a crime.

Partly to blame was the U.S. engineer who designed the water system, not dreaming that...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!