Bathing in Botswana

There are things I miss from back home and one is hot water.  We do have running water in our bathroom, but it is cold water only.

I usually bathe in the evening as I am usually hot and sweaty from walking the two miles or so back to our home.  Bathing requires hot water and I have two options to get it.  One way is to boil it in a kettle on the stove and then pour it into a bucket, this gives me about one gallon of boiling hot water, which gives me about twice as much water that is warm enough for use.

The better way to get water is to walk out the back door and go to the side of the house where there are some out buildings.  One of the buildings is where Dube, the gardener, keeps water on a fire.  Dube’s water bucket holds about five gallons.  The more hot water the better.  When I am trying to get some of Dube’s water, I go to his building, look in the door and I hope to see the fire burning beneath the bucket.

The last two nights I saw Dube’s bucket filled with water, but the fire had burned out.  Smoke still rose from the embers so I knew it had not been out for long.  I put my finger in the water gingerly, and was happy to find that it was still very hot, and I could use it.  I picked up the big bucket by its handle and held it over my bucket.  Then I felt the bottom to be sure it would not burn my hand, grabbed the bottom and tilted the bucket, trying not to splash, and filled my three gallon bucket.  Then I put his bucket back over the fire, picked up mine and returned into the main house and our bathroom.

I set the bucket down in the tub and took a “bucket bath.”  It is surprising how little water it actually takes to take a complete bath, including washing your hair.

To be honest, Tish and I have not exactly figured out the most efficient way to take the bath.  The first time we tried running a little cold water into the stoppered bathtub and pouring the hot water in with it, that didn’t work too well.  Lately we just fill a smaller cup halfway with the hot water from the bucket, and pouring cold water into the cup to make it a better temperature we then use the water in the cup to wet ourselves for washing, or rinsing.  We have to do it over and over again until we are finished bathing.  If you have any better ideas, please let us know.  We are new to this.

There is a joke that goes like this:  A glass is filled to the middle.  One man says the glass is half-full, one man says it is half-empty.  A Peace Corps volunteer takes a look at it and says, “Hey, I bet I could take a bath in that.”

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1 Response to Bathing in Botswana

  1. carol reckamp says:

    Hi again!
    It is so nice to see that you and Tish are enjoying your experience already. It seems as though you have been provided very nice living arrangement as well. I enjoyed reading about your village experience – and was intrigued about the shower.
    We do have a few ideas, but we need to know if standard propane tanks are available like in the US? Also are the gas connections the same as the US connections?
    You may also want to consider some basic solar options. A big black bag with an attached shower head sells for $20 here and is very light and small to ship.
    Finally, my grandma had perfected the wash cloth system where she had one warm bucket of water and multiple wash rags for each part/section of her body. She only washed her hair once a week and set her hair with rollers – her hair was set high over her scalp and could last a week.
    Let me know how the water system is set up and we can talk about better shower ideas. Looking forward to talking to you.

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