Friday, August 14, 2009

Basic Bush Bathing 101

This will be a short-winded post, since I found out I'm leaving a day early for a conference I'm attending in Tanzania - I leave early tomorrow morning! It was a busy day and I'm pretty tired. But I promised to show you where I bathe in the field.

Yesterday we went over the bush bathroom. In the view here, you can see the shower just beyond it, nestled in a tree:

Here's a closer view,

and an even closer one, where you can see one of my favorite camping gear inventions: the solar shower.

How does it work? Basically, it's a big, thick plastic bag you fill with water and leave out in the sun to heat up all day.

Then you hoist it into a tree and hang it over a branch.

Here you can see the bag, hose and spouty-thing that the water comes out of. (I told you I'm tired, I'm getting a little inarticulate!)

Inside the shower area -- which is similar to the bush toilet in that it's basically some wooden stakes with muslin wrapped around it -- there's a slatted wooden shelf to stand on, so you don't have to stand in the dirt, which becomes mud when it gets wet. Even with flip-flops on, it would be messy, defeating the purpose of getting clean.

You pull down on the little plastic shower spouty-thing, and voila, water comes out!

There's even a little drainage area on the ground where the water tends to collect.

Since the bags only hold about 4 gallons of water, the basic bush bathing procedure goes like this:
1. Bring towel and bathing accessories into shower stall.
2. Hang towel over muslin, making sure it doesn't fall into the dirt.
3. Pull spouty thing open so water flows out. Get self wet.
4. Push spouty thing closed to stop water flow. Soap up.
5. Open spouty thing. Rinse.
6. Repeat with shampoo, conditioner, etc.
7. Try to walk back to your tent with your flip-flops on, carefully, so you don't get yourself instantly covered with dust again.

There's nothing like a warm shower at the end of a long hot day, washing off all the dust, feeling the cool breeze, watching the open sky start to turn dark as the sun sets and the first stars of the Milky Way start to twinkle (yes, folks, you can see the Milky Way from camp_...

Since I'm going to Tanzania for a conference tomorrow it'll be several days until I do another post -- but I will do a few more starting about a week from now. Tune back in to see more of camp life, and have a great week!