Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Art of Taking a Bucket Shower

After a month of either scalding hot or too cold showers, I finally had a perfect bucket shower this evening.

The routine in Kipkaren is that you get a 10-gallon cooking-oil drum filled with boiling hot water delivered either to your door (if you live in a house with plumbing) or to the shower (if you use the outhouse and shower at the foot of the property.) While I was in my new house in Kipkaren, there was for some reason no water supply in the house. So in the mornings, when Cosmas would so kindly leave the hot water by my door, I’d either have to poor the water into the big bucket and then go outside for my quiet time while the water cools down—and I’d always let it get too cold this way—or I’d have to pour the water over me in very small scoops so it’d almost cool down as I’m pouring it over me.

Now that my house is being renovated, I’m staying in an adjacent hut and using the outhouse/shower down the hill from where I live. There’s a tap outside the shower/toilet, so this morning, I added cold water from there. But it wasn’t enough cold water, and I discovered that only once I was ready for the shower. I wasn’t going to get dressed again just to get more cold water. (Sorry if this is TMI/too much information for your liking.) So it was back to the small scoops option.

This evening, I wanted to take a shower because I simply don’t like going to bed dirty, and I really was dirty from helping when the guys were sweeping cement and bricks from my house.

Cosmas delivered some water with his usual big smile. I was still in the office, working, so I let the water wait a while. But not long enough for it too cool down. I remembered this morning’s lesson, though: Don’t get ready for a bucket shower till you know the water is just right. I added more cold water from outside, and more, and “Voila!” I was able to take a wonderfully relaxing bucket shower. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.

Now I know there are some people who’ve been here who'd say, “Oh, Adele, the showers aren’t that hard to get used to.” To you and to anyone who loves old-style camping and who might think the same thing, try taking such showers every day. In a small space. With lots of bugs, too. If you like it, welcome to rural Africa. I'm realizing that I'm much more of a girly-girl than I thought. I don't mind snakes. I don't mind lots of the stuff we deal with all the time out here. But I like being in a clean house and a clean bathroom.

Back to the shower: I’ll look on the bright side. If you’d stop and listen halfway through the shower, you’d hear the night sounds. And the river. And when you make your way back up the hill after the shower, if you turn off your flashlight and look up, you’d see what I saw: A sky covered in millions of stars, the milky way a thick line through the evening sky.

And you'd know that in the midst of all this stuff, God is still God. Hot showers or not.

1 comment:

  1. I love hearing these stories about your life, Adele. I remember the stars. Certainly, a perk. Thanks for your sheer honesty. It's never TMI for me.
    BTW, the kids asked about you.