hot showers–not so simple

Warning: this post has absolutely nothing to do with microfinace. Just gives you a glimpse into what is involved with taking a hot shower here in Nimasac, Guatemala.

When I was first accepted as a Kiva Fellow,  I was asked if I had any “special” requirements. My response was that I wanted to be relatively safe and be able to take a hot shower.

Taking a hot shower is no simple matter in Guatemala. First of all, most homes do not have running water. (this includes the family that I am living with). So, in that situation, here is how you get to take a hot shower. First, they run a hose from the closest water source (in my case about a block away from the house) and fill this black (20-50?) gallon drum up with water. Then you light a fire underneath the drum and wait until the water gets hot. This big drum is always located above the shower, as it is gravity fed.


Now it gets dicey……because without any cold running water to “mix in” with the hot water, instead of a “hot” shower, you can get a SCALDING HOT shower……, it takes some time to figure out exactly how big of a fire to build and how long after the fire has been built is it safe to take a shower…….go too soon and you get scalding hot…….wait too long and it’s tepid at best.

When there is running water, as there is at many hotels, they use this kind of an electrical contraption which is located right there in the shower, right above the shower nozzle. The one pictured here is one of the “safer” versions…..many have electrical wires portruding and a lot of electrical tape wrapped (sometimes loosely) around them. And, when you’re tall like I am and the water splashes on the exposed electrical wires, that too gets a bit “dicey”.


And, as long as we’re talking about “bathrooms”, I thought I’d share a photo of the outhouse that my host family and I use. (actually, it is quite pleasant, as the view from the crack in the door is of the beautiful countryside surrounding Totonicapan)



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