Monday, February 12, 2007

Water, Plumbing and Washing

The water here in Africa is not safe to drink. This really is a major issue to deal with in our day to day living. Bottled water is readily available and is used for all drinking, cooking and brushing of teeth. The alternative is boiling the water for at least 20 minutes. When you use as much as we do in cooking and just living here full time we definitely use this procedure. I have a huge tea kettle that I fill at least once a day and boil for 20 minutes. The whole procedure takes 2 hours. When it is cool I pour it into a 4 gallon covered container which is always then available for use. We refill water bottles and chill them for drinking. The only problem is the heavy mineral content in the water. By the end of the pot we have to discard the cloudy sediment-filled water. Even the native people here follow the water-boiling procedure, so it must be very important.

For washing dishes I put a capful of chlorine in the wash water and the rinse water. For vegetables : they are first washed off, next thoroughly soaked in chlorinated water and then rinsed in boiled water. I was worried because some people don’t eat lettuce, but following this procedure I have done a couple of tossed salads without getting sick at all.

Now the plumbing is another story. Everyone has a geezer. That is a hot water tank that is usually outside. Ours gets so hot that it boils the water. We have to shut it off part of the day. The showers are very difficult to regulate. You either freeze with icy water or get scalded. Once in a while you can balance it to get a warm shower…..or should I say a warm sprinkle. The water pressure is another issue. There are some solutions to this problem. Since outside my door we have a large area of weeds that I hope to transform into a garden I find that if I get up at daybreak and work in the garden until I am ready to faint with heat that a cold shower is very refreshing and I don’t mind it a bit. The other choice is to take a bath, since we do have a bathtub. So far I am good with a cool sprinkle.

Washing clothes is all done by hand. Since we have a maid, I don’t mind that at all. The clothes get a lot cleaner than my washing machine at home did. And when I help hang up the clothes I am immediately transferring back in time to when I was a farm girl hanging up the wash on my mother’s clothesline so it could whip in the wind. Now say what you will about technology…there is nothing that smells better than clothes coming off the line. They all get ironed…even underware and towels. I didn’t understand why until Edah explained to me that ironing kills the bugs that might be in them. (and I thought it was to merely press them so they looked good!) It does soften up the stiff things.

1 comment:

Julienne said...

Pam , I'm delighted with your watering and laundering message. You are a crack up---and of course real about the whole thing. Maria is looking in to coming to help you all. She's looking at several options, but do you think she could help by coming over for a month? Julienne