Saturday, April 17, 2010

I smell!!

So apparently, I have forgotten how to take a bucket bath. The first two months I was in South Africa I was living in a house that did not have running water. We fetched the water from a tap in the yard; however, the water to the community was shut off a good portion of the time. This required a lot of water conservation. When the community water supply was turned on, it was a mad dash to get all the buckets you owned filled with water because it was unknown how long the water was going to be on and how long it would be before it was turned back on. On average, the water was off for a couple days and came back on for only half a day. It got worse as time went on. At points, the water was off for a week at a time and it was turned on for a couple hours in the early morning around 3am. It got to the point of desperation for water sometimes that when the water came on in the early morning hours everyone was awake and scrambling to store as much water as possible. The moral to this story is that I learned very quickly how to survive on very little water. Here are a few water conservation tips:

  • Flush toilets use a great deal of water and are a luxury in most houses. Build yourself a pit latrine in the yard. No water required just a little bug spray to keep the insects at bay. Side note: The one down side to using a pit latrine is that once about 8pm hits the house is locked up and you are not allowed to leave until morning. Thus, you must have a pee bucket for use at night. Now, even though everyone uses a pee bucket, it is important that in the morning you empty it in secret. This is where the bucket bath comes in handy (see bullet point 4).
  • When doing dishes just use a single bucket. Fill the bucket with hot soapy water. No rinsing required, just dry the dishes and put them back. Side note: use the same dish water all day, no need to change the water even once it becomes brown and murky.
  • Do laundry by hand. Use two buckets, one with soapy water to wash and the other for rinsing. Important tip: always remember to start with your whites and lights and wash those first. The water turns brown pretty quickly, so to insure that your whites stay whitish always begin with those (lesson learned the hard way, I now have a selection of brown underwear). And just like with the dish water, no need to change the water once it becomes brown and murky, after all, it is just dirt.
  • And lastly, take a bucket bath. Who really needs a shower when you can take a bucket bath? All you need is a bucket (big enough to stand in), a cup for pouring, water and soup. With only two liters of water you can wash your entire body. Now, since bathrooms are a luxury, bathing is done in the bedroom, therefore it is important to keep the splashing under control. Always remember to start with your face and hair and then work down from there. A bucket bath spreads the dirt evenly throughout your body and leaves you smelling fresh and clean because you are unable to completely rinse all the soap from your body.
    • As I mentioned above, the dirty water after bathing can also be used to inconspicuously dispose of your pee bucket. Just keep the dirty bath water until morning and pour them out together, just make sure to rinse the bucket before using it again.

Now back to my main point. I have been at my permanent site now for a little under a month. I am spoiled here. Even though I do not have running water in my rondaval, the family’s house has all the western conveniences, a bathroom with a toilet AND shower along with a fully functioning kitchen sink. However, the problem lies within the last couple of days. I have been so spoiled with my daily showers that I have forgotten how to take a bucket bath. Just as I was beginning to take water for granted, the water to the community has been turned off. This means I have to resort back to the days of bucket baths. With this being said, water has become scarce and it’s back to the world of water conservation and I must resort back to the old way of life.


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