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#14 Hot showers

January 17, 2011

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.

Silly, don’t worry about those wires that you might splash….

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.

This shower will be cold…. if the water runs at all

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.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. ragin' bull permalink
    January 17, 2011 8:05 am

    when is the next post that stuff ex-pat aid workers like is “” or falling in line with the witty, holier-than-thou (but of course true) observations and judgments of their fellow clan?

    the true arrival at sheening privilege and gaining enlightenment is that wry self-criticism that somehow removes the self!

  2. January 17, 2011 10:20 pm

    screw you shotgun shack. I LOVE MY HOT SHOWERS. even in 90 degree weather. i can deal with the bucket bath (grew up in pakistan…karachi in fact with perpetual water shortages) and even then…the hot water kettle is my savior…

    who else likes my casual mention of growing up in a third world country so that my love of hot showers can be countered somewhat? don’t kid yourself. i’m a neo neo-colonialist. it’s stuff only diaspora expat aid workers can really get away with credibly…


  3. Buja Baby permalink
    January 22, 2011 1:51 am

    Yes, but if your driver (see #4) is worth his salt (i.e. as good as mine) he’ll have arranged for a basin of steaming hot water to be brought to your room by the hotel staff at 6:30am on the dot without you even having to ask.

  4. Brazil permalink
    February 1, 2011 3:11 pm

    “commonly referred to in Latin America as a ‘suicide shower'”. ..

    Que bobeira! Ninguém se refere assim ao chuveiro elétrico na América Latina (pelo menos no Brasil). Não conheço uma pessoa que teve problemas com esse tipo de chuveiro. Creio que o sistema de aquecimento utilizando gás é muito mais perigoso.


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