Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Shower for Over Three Weeks!

I'm sure you know by now about our lack of water. We have no water coming through our taps 24/7. From January to the middle of March we had times when the water was off, but the water storage tank filled up every night, so we had all the water we needed. By the beginning of March, it was filling up about every third day, but with careful use we could make the water in the tank last that long. But now we have nothing, not even a trickle.

The problem is due in part to the explosive growth of the town. Tera is no longer a sleepy little village. It is now a sprawling large town. Now, imagine, by the middle of March the temperature is over 100 degrees every day and in April it is 110 or more just about every day. So all those people are very thirsty and also very hot and smelly. So the consumption of water goes way up. Also, by the beginning of March it has been six months since we've had any rain and the underground water table has gone way down. And then there is the problem with the town having only one water chateau (tower)....they just can't pump enough water fast enough to keep that chateau filled.


So what it trickles down to is.....a few public water taps near the chateau have water. Trucks full of barrels and donkey carts piled with jerry cans, and women and children with buckets on their heads line up at those few taps that have water. Other people go to the resevoir where they bathe, wash their clothes, and water their animals. It is NOT very clean water and it can't be healthy especially since people and animals are also urinating in the water. But we have a barrel of that brown, muddy water brought in every day to water our plants and trees.


So, what do we do? First thing every morning I take or grab some kids to take our six jerry cans to one of those public taps. Since the line is so long, we just put the jerry cans in the line and leave them there....everybody does that. The people who man the taps move the cans along. Then a couple of hours later John goes to the tap in the truck and picks up the jerry cans. When he brings them home, we pour some of the water into a big barrel. From that we dip out water for cooking, bathing, and washing dishes and clothes. (On laundry day we hire somebody to bring in extra water. I have laundry done twice a week.) Some of the water we pour directly into our water filter.

To conserve water we use the outside toilet. It is in the corner of the yard with mud walls surrounding us. Here I am closing the grass mat door for a bit of privacy. Every body who visits us uses our latrine, so when they see the door they know somebody is in there. You can also drape a scarf or an item of clothing over the wall and that signals that somebody is in there....the pit latrine. This is neither pleasant nor fun, but it means a lot less water to have to haul in. The latrine is outside with no shade over it. You squat over the hole and believe me, that's no fun when the shade temperature is 113 and the sun is beating down on your head. Be glad you can't smell along with these photos!
We keep a bucket and a tub of water in the bathroom for having bucket baths. So, no I haven't had a shower for over three weeks. But I have bathed!
We are clean and we are not thirsty. Chores just take a little longer and it's definitely not convenient. But some people don't have a truck or a donkey cart to haul in water. My neighbor for instance has to carry all their water home in buckets on her head....no short distance from the tap. The children are not very clean right now since all the water she carries in is for drinking or cooking. So when I feel like complaining I try to remember others around me who are worse off than I am! Besides lugging around those jerry cans is a good way to get buff!!

4 comments:

Dusty Penguin said...

So many memories! I LOVE the picture of you peeking around the grass mat "door". It's so cute. Another really good post to help us identify with your daily lives. By the way, how does everyone identify their jerry cans, wash tubs, buckets, etc., when most of them look the same? We've had to pay to have water carried, but I don't know if the ladies left the containers there or just waited around...

Hannatu said...

Some people scratch their names into the plastic, others paint something on, and some, like us, tie a piece of cloth or colorful string on that identifies it as yours. Cuz you're right....they're all yellow with an occasional green one thrown in!

Dusty Penguin said...

Now I remember--dots of fingernail polish!! and the strips of cloth. How could I have forgotten that!

Georgene said...

Oh, my! And we think we suffer at times here in America! Huh! It's good for us Americans to read what true hardship really is. Thank you for this post. It's been very helpful!