To take a shower…..
….is always a big decision where we are. When in the day is the water pressure going to be good? How much time do I have because the water heater will take at least fifteen minutes to give me a little warm water? Once I turn on the water, I have to be committed to taking that shower because electricity is expensive and it’s not good to waste any. So cleaning up always takes longer than the 10 or 15 minutes that I need back home. Will it be warm enough in the house when I take that shower so I won’t shiver and shake going in and especially coming out? Will the leak under the sink be light or bad today?
It’s strange how little things we take for granted in the Western world matter a great deal in Tanzania. I have never had to be mindful of taking a shower. Just took one when I needed it. Counted on the water pressure to soak me and clean me. Never wondered whether this morning is also the time to wash my hair or whether I should wait til late afternoon when the city of Mbeya has the water running as best as it can. But here I think about these things every day. They occupy my head and take up space. They make me aware of how fragile everything is in these parts.
And yet, still, nonetheless, I am in the city and water is being brought to me even if it is only a trickle sometimes. Only about 10 miles from here, the women and girls are already walking to the nearest government provided well, or to a spring in the woods to get the water for the day. They are not thinking about a warm shower. They are about surviving the day and not getting sick. Simply that.
So now the water heater has been on for 15 minutes and I will see whether it’s all working this morning. Randy and I have something we say to each other when the plan doesn’t work out quite like it should. “Welcome to Africa,” we say and then we remember that we are alive and well. Thanks be to God.