#14 Hot showers
Expat Aid Workers like hot showers. They are accustomed to bathing once a day in hot water at home, and hope for no less when living in another country.
Hot water doesn’t come already installed in the house in many countries, however, and Expat Aid Workers may have to send their drivers to purchase them an electric shower, commonly referred to in Latin America as a “suicide shower“. These come in various designs. They are sometimes manufactured locally, but may be also imported. (Check here for a variety of electric showers). They are installed in the bathroom by the handyman from the office and are of dubious safety. Expat Aid Workers grow up learning not to use electric hair dryers and shavers while in the bathtub due to the risk of electric shock and often question the wisdom of having exposed electrical wires near water.
The lure of the hot water shower can be too much, however, and the Expat Aid Worker gives in against his or her better judgment. A hot shower is one of the few small pleasures in an Expat Aid Worker’s otherwise difficult life.
When spending a few days in a village, staying at a local guest house in a small town or living like a Peace Corps worker in a real live community for an extended period of time, cold water showers or bucket baths are a hardship that Expat Aid Workers must endure. In these situations, it’s hard to get and stay clean. Even if there is someone attending to the Expat Aid Worker, he or she may not always have hot water to bathe with. There may not be water at all in some cases, though surely if there is water, the locals will allow the Expat Aid Worker to make first use of it.
In any case, taking a cold shower on a chilly morning is just not pleasant. And no matter how many cold bucket baths per day are suffered through, it’s just plain hard to stay clean in the absence of hot water. Of special difficulty is dirt accumulated on the feet and underneath the toenails, since often the Expat Aid Worker will be forced to walk on sand or dirt paths throughout the day, and he or she may be wearing Tevas or Birkenstocks. Additionally, female Expat Aid Workers using cold water to shave their legs are prone to razor burn, small irritating bumps, or persistent stubble.
Upon returning from “the field,” the first things the Expat Aid Worker will seek out are a hot shower and alcohol, in no particular order, followed in most cases by Internet and chocolate.
Hot showers are a vital necessity for washing away the grime accumulated during dusty rides along unpaved roads and the sweat from spending a few hours in the sun looking at a WASH project or a health facility out in the field. They are just one of the many basic human necessities that Expat Aid Workers sometimes do without, or risk their lives to obtain, while conducting their important life-saving work for all of humanity.