"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking a shower, Haitian style

To lighten up the blog a bit, I'd like to share how we took showers while in Haiti.
It was very hot and humid with no air conditioning.
Dust. Sweating. Dripping. Body odor.
I even dreaded changing my exam gloves as my hands were so soaked
that I could hardly get the next pair on.
We handled a lot of skin disorders and fungi and I dreamed of a hot, sanitizing shower at the end of each busy day.
OK, you get the picture?

*****Reality 101*****

When we returned to our house each evening, it was a race to the showers.
This is how they looked. Nice and clean. Tiled. Faucets, even.
Only challenge: There are not water lines and all the water had been delivered.
Every drop was precious.
We were each entitled to one bucket. Period.
It wasn't treated but full of parasites
so we were careful to not get a drop in our mouths or eyes.

After an unsuccessful start I ended up with a good system:

1. Fill the white bucket with the cold water. No water heaters here, folks.
2. Scoop in with the little metal pan and fill it.
3. Wet washcloth in big bucket and wet my whole body, including hair. Brrrrrr
4. Add soap to the washcloth and lather up.
5. VERY IMPORTANT--only work from the small, metal pan for sudsing.
I learned this the hard way.
If the bucket gets full of suds...well, there goes the clear rinse water.
6. After shampooing and lathering, rinse.
This means dumping little pans of clear water gathered from the white bucket all over myself.
Best to start with hair so all the shampoo is rinsed out before the water is gone.
7. If any water is left in the bucket, step in and soak hot feet for a bit.
8. Pour last drops of soapy water on dusty shoes.
9. Grab a towel and take a deep, cleansing breath.
10. Cover feet, legs, arms and neck with super-duper, stinky Deet to discourage mosquitoes from getting too familiar.
This somehow takes away from the freshly washed feeling, however.

Then try not to get too sweaty before time to go to bed.

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