Ungracefully Phoebs – Water World

            Showering has become a difficult process in Nairobi. The water is usually scorching hot and you can only put it on so it drips out or you are in pain standing under it. I know that it is ridiculous to complain about having hot water when in most places in Africa that is a luxury, but I haven’t quite figured this system out. The pressure and temperature are different on different days so you never know what to expect. Occasionally the water goes out in the apartment entirely. The frustration with the showering and water often makes me feel homesick. I now long for the shower in my apartment that we would complain changed temperatures so suddenly. At least it is reliable.

            After a weekend of not showering on safari (even though there was a nice looking shower in our tent I felt being on a safari was an excuse not to have to shower), I was so excited to get out of my dusty clothes and be clean. I got in the shower and there was no pressure so I guess I must have turned the knob in frustration when all of the sudden the knob broke off. Water started shooting out of the shower wall from where the knob was supposed to be. I fiddled with it for a few minutes in the shower cursing and then convinced myself that my crafty roommate J for sure could fix it. J tries for a little, but then tells me to call our handyman. He picks up and I hear loud noise in the background as if he is at a party (doesn’t bode well for us). I try to explain the issue and he tells me he will check it out on Monday. I stress that it cannot wait until Monday and the apartment is flooding. Not seeming too concerned he assures me he will try to send someone else.

            In the meantime I am putting buckets in the shower and trying again to fit the knob in and repeatedly getting new sets of clothes sopping wet. I felt so helpless just watching the shower fill up and the bathroom floor become soaked. I went through all the towels in our apartment and the water started to leak into the beautiful closet. I wanted to cry, but J keeps me laughing and urges me not to. She orders take-out thai food while I alternate between being on the computer, calling the super and using the word emergency, and staring at the bathroom with my head in my hands. After several phone calls our super says someone is at the gate. I expect to see a car turning in when I see a young man running on foot.

He comes in and tries to turn off the water. This time the water decides to not shut off completely. He was a man of few words so I decided to just let him to his task without me anxiously watching. He seemed confident it would be okay. After another fifteen minutes hiding in J’s room I was convinced that we were going to be living in an marsh similar to the hippos I saw last weekend when I finally hear the water stop. I had never been so excited to hear a shower turn off.

This experience demonstrated a theme that I have noticed in Kenyans in my time here, they do not seem to get easily flustered, whether it is in traffic that is not moving or a flooding bathroom. I hope this attitude is contagious, but for now I am going to be more careful when I turn the faucets in the shower.


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