(to be fair, i haven't had to take one in a while. my gym membership is really starting to pay off... thanks to good management and my $200 a month fee, they somehow keep that shower pumping every day.)
in beni, you may remember, i had running water less than 25% of the time. but i also had a well. and a system. systems are important. every morning the gardener filled 6 big buckets with water and refilled them after morning showers, laundry or whatever else needed doing during the day.
while it wasn't running out of the tap, we never ran out of water.
in this house, however, the water sometimes just stops and there is no well. given that we've got 3 people minimum living here, and sometimes up to 6, it's easy to run out completely. let me tell you, there is a unique type of panic that sets in when the toilets can't be flushed and hands can't be washed in a house full of men.
in this context, i have had to take many bucket showers over the past few years, as have the majority of people living around the world with little or no running water.
so in the spirit of lots of helpful how-to blog posts on everything from preparing couscous to making a french knot, i thought i'd do a how-to on the essential skill of taking a bucket shower. bucket showers are a vital part of life and a good, hot bucket shower is nearly as satisfying as a regular shower. (ok, that's a lie but one i like to tell myself.) and, when you are water-limited, it's important to know how to get the most shower out of the least water.
(and to those of you in the developed world: you just never know when the infrastruture will collapse under the strain of one more lawn sprinkler or the libertarians will cut funding for pipe maintenence, and you'll be living like the rest of us! mwah ha ha ha!)
so without further ado...
how to take a bucket shower
what you'll need:
- water in a jerry can or some other source
- one large plastic bucket
- a large plastic cup (e.g. a camping cup, nesquick container, large plastic water bottle with the neck cut off...)
- a large pot (optional, for hot water)
- a stove/campfire (optional, for hot water)
how to do it:
1. fill your bucket up about 2/3. it doesn't look like a lot of water, but trust me.
2. if you want a hot bucket shower (hmm... that sounds like a band name or some sort of obscene euphemism) dip your big pot into your bucket until it fills. this will probably be about 1/3 of the water you've got. stick it on the stove, covered to save water, until it's just starting to boil. pour it back in to your bucket. (test your water to make it's not too hot.)
3. use one big cupful to just get your hair wet and splash a little water on the rest of you. shampoo.
4. use two big cupfuls to rinse out the shampoo. apply conditioner.
5. using the water that's on you from washing your hair, soap yourself.
6. use three big cupfuls to rinse out conditioner and rinse yourself. remember to switch hands so you can wash both arms.
7. be amazed at how little water you actually used. consider whether you should save the rest for a later shower or hand washing. if you have ample supply or are feeling sorry for yourself because you hate bucket showers, even hot ones, pick up the bucket and slowly pour the rest of the water over your head with your eyes closed, pretending like it's coming from a showerhead.
you are clean! bucket shower success.