Molly in Africa

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life Without Water

Well not without ANY water, but it’s amazing how life continues even when water doesn’t come out of your faucets.  Let me start with a little ranting and then I’ll get to the raving…


            While I haven’t really been keeping track, I think we’ve spent 6 of the past 9 weeks without water.  Just to clarify- that means we can’t use our toilets (so we use our pit latrine out back), we can’t take showers (so we do bucket baths) and we can’t waste water (because we have to drive to closest bore hole and fill buckets and that process usually takes at least an hour). 

The last one about not wasting water has several implications: we bathe less frequently- I was on a two or three times per week schedule which was reduced to once or twice each week.  That wouldn’t have been that bad, but (until this past Thursday) it’s been over 115 degrees Fahrenheit each day.  Most of you know I sweat abnormal amounts in the states so just imagine me out on village visits under the African sun with that heat!  Dirt was burrowed in every crease and crevice of my hands and my feet were so coated in dirt & sand that my students began asking, “Madam, WHEN are going to bathe?”  Laundry also fits in here… without excess water, laundry couldn’t be a priority over drinking water.  So in these past two weeks, I’ve worn shirts 2 or 3 times in a week.  If you don’t think that’s gross you should re-read this paragraph and pay attention to the part about the heat and the amount I sweat.

            I hope that was a sufficient rant for you all.

Raving:  For the most part, I really liked not having easy access to water.  Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Trips to the borehole to get water are ALWAYS fun!  One time Sarah and I were trying to figure out the borehole norms.  Another time four of us went and were a little silly with the water.  Matty and I poured a whole bucket on Sarah- right in the face… actually right in her open mouth!  While I felt a little bad that she experienced that drowning feeling for a moment, mostly I thought it was hysterical!

2. Bathing is much more rewarding when your skin changes colors as a result (brownish/red- bright white).

 3. I’m learning how to carry buckets on my head (very Malawian) and that’s been a fun challenge.

 4. Pooping and peeing in a pit latrine is all I did in Uganda so that wasn’t uncomfortable… actually oddly familiar.

 5. It humbled me to see the women, men and children at the borehole who always have to walk to this common source and wait for their turn and then carry their buckets (usually on their heads) and jugs back to their homes.

We got water back last week and my laundry was washed on Friday.  Taking a shower with water pressure is an appreciated cleansing experience now and I’m grateful for my new-found enjoyment of being clean. :)


At 5:46 PM, November 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an amazing rant and rave. I will always have a more graphic understanding of the threats we hear even here in the states about the possibility of water shortages in the future. Oh my! I will think of you and others in the drier and drying part of the world next time I over indulge myself in the shower. Question: Why was the water gone and now it is back?
Love are all wet now!

At 12:46 PM, November 29, 2008, Blogger JanetPG said...

I agree with Sally. Amazing. Thanks for the descriptions and insights. Thinking of you often.
Love, Janet

At 5:57 AM, December 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Molly,

thats nice! Was just crawling the net trying to find things in Karonga and here you are! I ve had the Water thing, too, it might not have been as hot though! My advice: the lake is great for a morning wash... you wont be alone out there! Good luck with work otherwise, Valentin (the German investigative student)

At 6:26 AM, December 01, 2008, Blogger Marybeth said...

Your optimism is amazing--and contagious. Who else could imagine more praise for non-running water than complaint?
Snow here in Chicago--just a dusting, but winter is here.
Miss you,

At 10:52 PM, December 04, 2008, Blogger Nora said...

Wow, that's so crazy! Though we never experience anything quite that intense, it is an astonishing difference having to pay attention to water consumption on St. Croix versus in the continental US. What caused there to be no water for that time?
Can't wait to read more about your wonderful adventures in Africa!
your cuz


Post a Comment

<< Home