Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cowgirl Shower

We ran out of water the other day.

As in, when I turned on the sink, after much spitting and sputtering, out coughed some brown sludge, not exactly what I wanted to brush my teeth with.

This meant, of course, that the cistern which provides agua dulceto the main house and the three apartments on the same property, was empty. To remedy this situation, mi suegro, Vicente, must power up the generator to transfer water from the main cistern, or else pump water from the huge diesel water supply truck that he drives. Either way, I'm not allowed to help in the process.

It was later afternoon, and my in-laws had just returned from their highlands farm, tired yet lugging crates of oranges, large bundle of fresh flowers, a few fresh eggs, a head of ripening bananas, and a few bags of rich, nearly black soil for the small garden and plants in the yard.

Even if the water transfer were to happen right away, that didn't mean I could wait a few minutes to turn on the tap again.

The set-up of hoses and generator takes about fifteen minutes. Then, when the noisy machine is turned on, the actual transfer takes at least a half an hour. Then, one must wait for the water to settle. The shortest time is at least another half hour, longer if you're smart.

Since this is fresh water, but not clean drinking water, there are a few friends floating in the mix. Since the cistern provides water through a pump that floats on the top, you shouldn't be impatient to get wet from that stream. Anything you've got to clean can wait and will be better off for doing it.

Since we recently had a new shower head installed (an electric one that provides alternating three minutes of pretty warm water and regular, icy water), I had lost my habit of always showering in the middle of the day, with the few minutes of luke-warm water that was heated by the mid-day sun as it sat in the black rubber hoses between the cistern and the apartment.

Here it was, sundown, and I had planned on going out, which I reluctantly agreed called for a shower and clean clothes that weren't cut offs.

Grabbing towel, bucket, and bar of soap, I slipped on my bathing suit and flip flops and headed outside to the side of the house where there is a small cistern and table-like basin for the hand washing.

With only the lights of the clear stars and the colored lamps from the Malecon about two hundred feet away, I lathered and shampooed and rinsed the old fashioned way, feeling like a cowgirl bathing in the silent witness of the stars, and the family dogs.