When I came here, suddenly, it became a privilege. And like all privileges, it must be earned.
To have readily available clean, safe, water is to not think about it. Never before has water been a chore. It has never gotten me out of bed at 5am so I can fill up as many buckets as possible before it shuts off. I’ve never become sweaty, sunburned and physically exhausted from having to pump it out of the ground before carting it back home in a wheelbarrow. I’ve never before pulled a back muscle because of water, or had a crick in my neck because I didn’t center the jug perfectly on the top of my head. I’ve never accidentally dumped a bucket of water on my roommate’s head while trying to get it on my own (sorry, Clancy…) I’ve never included boiling water as part of my morning and evening rituals. Nor have I ever had to drink hot water while sweating on a 100 degree day just because I was too thirsty to wait for it to cool. I’ve never kept a full Nalgene bottle permanently in my purse along with my wallet and house keys. I’ve never before had to settle for a simple “rinse off” shower because it’s too dark to go to the pump for more water. In short, I’ve never had to work for water. Never even had to worry about it.
All this complaining, and I’ve actually got it good compared to most.
Our source of water has never been constant – at one point, it ran three times a day, directly to a faucet on our back porch. When that didn’t happen, to the pump we went with our jugs and our neighbor’s wheelbarrow. We fill up our jugs, then take them back to our house and fill up our big barrel – which apparently was used by something called “Protea Chemicals Inland” in its previous life. Not sure what that’s all about.
Now, when water runs, it starts somewhere between 5 and 6 in the morning and runs for about twenty minutes. There’s a spigot behind our house we share with our neighbors, and as soon as you hear the noise – that unmistakable noise of pipes hissing to life with water – we all roll out of bed with our jugs and wait our turn in line for the next bucketful of clean, fresh, water.
I never really noticed back in the states how much water I use in a day. Oh, there are all kinds of statistics meant to make you feel guilty and whatnot, and I know I take way too long in the shower, but I’ve never been more painstakingly aware of how quickly it disappears as I am here.
But just in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation – i.e., no running water, but functioning internet so you can reference this – I’ve included a handy-dandy How To Live Without Running Water Guide Below.
How to Shower:
1. Fill bucket or basin with water from water source/storage of choice.
2. Bring bucket/basin to drainable area (casa da banho, latrine, sheltered back porch, etc.)
3. Using small cup, dump water from bucket/basin over head and body.
4. Shampoo hair.
5. Wash body. Use more cupfuls of water if drying occurs between steps 4 and 5.
6. Rinse and repeat until you run out of water or the water collecting at your feet ceases to be brown and sandy.
• Note: In winter, you might consider heating kettle of water on stove before use. Especially when shower is outdoors.
• Note: For uncovered shower areas, showering during a rainstorm can be economical, but is discouraged during thunderstorms.
How to Wash Dishes:
1. Fill two basins with water halfway.
2. Select the least dirty dish to dip into first basin.
3. Using sponge or cloth and soap, wash first dish.
4. Rinse first dish in second basin and set aside to dry.
5. Wash, rinse, repeat.
6. When water in first bucket ceases to be transparent or a liquid, bring basin to back porch, check for neighbors in line of fire (chickens and children are OK), and toss dirty water. Note: If water is not transparent, use hands to ensure no dishes remain in water BEFORE tossing). Refill with water from rinse bucket, and continue. How to Use the Bathroom: (special for Clancy and Val’s house – we have a toilet!)
1. Fill large bucket with clean water and bring to casa da banho.
2. Have smaller empty bucket beside water bucket.
3. After using the toilet, use a cup to pour water first over one hand, then over the other, so that the water falls into the second bucket.
4. Put cup aside, use bar soap on hands.
5. Using cup, rinse hands one at a time so water falls into second bucket until hands are no longer soapy.
6. When hands are clean, dump second bucket down toilet to flush. Repeat as necessary.