Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two weeks without a working shower

Life is full of adventures and surprises when living abroad.  One common source of conversation is about bathrooms and showers, because what is the norm here is quite different from what we are used to back home.  So, what do we have here?  Great question!  We have electric hot water units attached to a water pipe directly above your head in the shower.  And as most people are shorter than the average American, the shower head is lower than normal.  This adds excitement to your morning routine, as most people at some point accidentally touch the heater unit while showering for an extra jolt to wake you up.  Thankfully, the voltage is low so those little jolts aren't too dangerous.  And once you do it, you rarely do it again!

This all takes some getting used to, but in the end, it's really not that different.  Sometimes you just have to keep the water pressure a bit lower to get some heat, but generally these systems work well.  Unfortunately, mine broke a few weeks ago.  It was attempted to be repaired several times, but ultimately had to be replaced with a nicer (and yes safer) unit.  However, 2 weeks without a hot shower was interesting...
Typical shower in Latin America with an electric water heater connected to water source
Shower head close-up
So, if there's not hot water in the shower, there is also no hot water in any faucet.
So, what do you do without a shower for 2 weeks?  You take bucket showers.  I perfected the task of heating up water on the stove - yes just a gallon per "shower".  I really saved on water in these two weeks!  It also got me thinking about what a luxury hot water and showers are.  Many other traveling friends have had similar (and worse) experiences, so in the grand scheme, I'm grateful I only had to deal with this for two weeks.  However, it was a good reality check and insight into how many, many people in the world live.
Just a gallon per shower
In the end, I now have a wall heater unit which pumps hot water into the shower through the hot water pipe.  It's very nice!  Unfortunately, the pipe under the shower was broken which added an extra week (and lots of dust) to the completion date.  However, it's done now and I've never been happier to have a hot shower!

It works great even though it looks a bit like an octopus is coming out of the wall! 

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