CALLAO, Peru — The heat in and around Peru's sprawling capital can be intense in February, the heart of the Southern Hemisphere's summer, and residents of its poor neighborhoods are cooling themselves off in plastic pools set up outside their humble houses.
While children frolic and adults lounge in the waters, municipal officials gripe about the waste in a desert city battling chronic water shortages.
One of centers for the street pool-party phenomenon is Lima's port city of Callao, where 10 pools could be seen in a single block. Sometimes entire blocks chip in to buy a pool at a local department store for a bit over $100.
Temperatures in Callao can top 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in February, which is also the month of Peru's water carnival when people celebrate with water fights and hurling water balloons.
Karen Naupa, 26, celebrated her daughter's birthday in a light blue pool. She even hired a clown for the children's party in front of her house, while the adults drank beer and listened to Salsa music.
"It's the birthday of my daughter who is 4 years old, and since the day fell on Sunday during the carnival it seemed like a good idea to have a pool party" in Callao, said Naupa. "Here everyone puts up a pool."
Some parts of Lima have banned swimming pools on the streets, arguing that in February 2014 about 120,000 cubic meters of water was wasted in the arid city, the equivalent of 30 Olympic pools. Local officials also say the pools often block traffic.
But Callao residents love the street pools.
"The houses are small, and the heat inside is intense. Rather than take a shower why not share a bath with your family out here?" said a barefoot man drinking beer who would only give his first name of Fred.