Sunday, February 04, 2007

No water

When I checked this afternoon, we still had no water. This the fourth day now, but fortunately the water came back two days ago, so that we had time to fill the water tower (which means that this time, I am not entirely without water - I can do the dishes without carrying buckets from elsewhere and do not have to invite myself over to others in order to take a shower). Unfortunately, the water tower had a leak which means that yesterday, it was only 1/3 full and today, there should be even less. You'd be amazed at how easily you take things for granted. You take for granted that there is clean water in your tap. You take for granted that you can take a shower as soon as you feel uncomfortably hot - even though you might not always do it, you treasure the possibility to do so. You take for granted that you can wash your dishes immediately after use - not having to choose between washing up with dirty water or not washing up at all. And you take for granted that you have enough water for the washing machine - not that it suddenly stops because there wasn't enough water, and you are left to dry dirty clothes. However, you'd also be surprised at how possible it is to live a different life, and not use so much water. Six years ago, I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life when I followed Aïssa on a week-long trip to the bush, where we stayed with her nomad Bororo family.

The camp consisting of one man, his two wives, a few of his twelve grown-up children (with his first wife) with their respective families and his younger children as well; civilization in the middle of the nowhere. The sun was scorching hot and from nine am to five pm, there was no activity other than socializing, drinking tea and moving the mats around the tree in order to stay in the shade. With such a long siesta-period, you don't need much sleep. We went to bed after midnight and got up at six o'clock, the best period of the day.

We rode camels, horses and donkeys during our stay. The horses were my favorite, but the American Peacecorps volunteer who was staying with the family at that time fell off and from then on, I rode alone. The landscape was the same and navigating was tricky, but I wasn't worried because I went riding before they had had their morning drink, and so when it was time to go back home, I just gave the young stallion free reins and he headed straight for the well.

The most amazing thing that I did during this timeless adventure did not have anything to with animals or riding, but with water. After a few days, you started to feel sticky all over. This was when Aïssa brought me a large empty bucket and a smaller one, containing one liter of water. With this one liter of water, I walked away in the dark and found a secluded place far away from camp to be alone but not so far that I wouldn't find my way back again. Then in the moonlight, I showered with that one liter of water, and I cannot describe what a luxury that felt like! Surprisingly, the water was amply sufficient and I even showered my hair! I have never felt, neither before nor after, any shower give me such sense of satisfaction, nor has one never made me feel so immensely clean! That episode really marked me, and nowadays, when I find myself in a tight water situation, I just remind myself that one liter is enough and if you're not comfortable, just lower your expectations and you'd be surprised at how satisfied you'll be!

Ishtar

1 comment:

Hanna Grönberg said...

Wow, that's cool that you stayed with those people out in the desert. I would have prefered something more comfortable, like a five star hotel! :)