Monday, September 5, 2011

Afternoon Delight

Ah, the famed bucket showers. On the way to our training sites, a volunteer beside me on the bus made a joke: A pessimist looks at a glass half-empty, an optimist looks at it half-full; a Peace Corps volunteer sees it and says “I can take a bath with that!”
We all laughed but I didn’t realize how true that would be. Other volunteers have had their breakdowns during training over the stress.  I half-jokingly told Allison “the only time I’ve cried in training is when I have to take a shower”. It’s not entirely true, generally I just curse and pray alternately.
I get a kick out of the fact that I am essentially showering in my closet. It’s a small separate room with concrete walls with a shower nozzle and knob. My showers hang on a rank on one wall and my bag of dirty clothes hangs on another. My suitcases use to take up the rest of the space but I moved them to the room with the toilet (there’s no light in either and no water to use the toilet).
So basically here’s the process. I go outside and find a useable bucket (basically those 10 gallon buckets you can buy paint or plaster in). I walked to the big blank tanque and fill it with water then lug it to the house and into my closet/shower. Then I use a smaller bucket to scoop the water out and dump over my head. Yeah, it’s pretty complicated. Going on a suggestion from another trainee, I lean forward and dump the water on my head first. Apparently, it helps your body acclimate to the temperature change faster. And I think every PCV agrees that the moment when the cold water first touches your back is the worst part of the whole activity.  Anyway, Nicaraguans shower at least once a day, but I’ve always been sensitive to temperature and honestly; this is torture. I’m working on it.
Ok, so here’s an extra credit activity:
Next time you go to take a shower, take a container (bucket, tupperware, pot) and fill it with cold water from the tap. Then get in the shower and take a cup or bowl from the kitchen to use to dump the water on you. Keep emptying the cup over your head until the bucket/pot is empty… or until you cry uncle.
Really it’s not that bad, and it’ll be over before you know. And after you finish, you can turn on the clean, hot running water that’s available every day from your shower. And don’t forget to say a quick prayer of thanks to G-d.
Reading about my Peace Corps adventure is one thing, but doing this activity will be like you’re really here. Any time you meet a returned volunteer, or someone from an undeveloped country, you could commiserate and say in all honesty “I know exactly how it is”.
So you have the instructions, go forth fearless readers and take that first cold step into a brave new world. You might lose a few degrees of body temperature but you’ll gain priceless knowledge of the Peace Corps experience.
Oh, and if you actually do this please leave me a comment telling me how it was :)

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