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November 5, 2009

Sunday, Shower Day

With no running water, and environmental regulations requiring that all gray water be contained and shipped home to the states, developing a workable shower system was a formidable task. Fortunately.....
Sunday is shower day! Everyone in the field camp is allocated one shower per week. The limit is in place partially to cut down on the grey water produced, and partially to conserve on the resources that are required to create the showering system.

The singer Greg Brown sings about summer in a jar, this is my bliss in a box. The shower hut.

Originally used as a lab space, the shower hut is now exclusively used for showers. The setup takes 24 hours, and begins with me lighting the diesel preway heater on Saturday afternoon.

Over the course of 24 hours, the diesel heater warms the small space to near sauna temperatures. One large pot is left sitting atop the heater overnight and by the following morning the water temperature is nearly boiling. In addition, two smaller pots are left on the counter tops and left to reach room temperature. The third pot is used to make cold water and actually requires the addition of ice to cool it back down.

Water is drawn from each of the three posts and combined, to a temperature of one's liking, into a solar shower suspended from the ceiling. There are no drains in the floor, and no where for water to drain to, so we substitute with a small metal drip pan placed beneath the shower on the floor. The drip pan eventually fills up, and the water is transferred to a bucket. This process is repeated numerous times until one feels sufficiently scrubbed and clean. There is an unlimited amount of time allotted for each shower, so for many the process turns into a 45 min to 1 hour ritual, and includes copious amounts of time simply enjoying the hot humid air and the quiet private space.

Notice the temperature reading!

It is a time consuming process and a primitive means, but come Sunday afternoon the opportunity to have a private sauna and a decent rinse feels like a well deserved luxury.