Saturday, August 16, 2008


Water. It's something that we take for such granted here in America. I know, even if you've never set foot outside of American soil you probably still realize that we have it good in America. We. Are. So. Privileged.

Every time I return from Ghana there is a reverse culture shock thing that happens. I feel so wasteful as I brush my teeth with tap water flowing out of the faucet. I feel guilty at night when I throw a half full glass of perfectly drinkable water down the sink. And what a snob I am that I would rather walk to get water out of the kitchen than drink out of the perfectly safe tap at the bathroom sink?

There's no trickle of cold or luck warm water coming out of my tap during a shower. There is no need to collect bathing water in a bucket. There isn't even a need to turn on a water heater 10 minutes before a shower in hopes that the water might come out a bit warm. No. Here in my home my shower spews out fresh drinkable HOT water with great water pressure, that will last for a 1/2 hour shower if I want it to. Water just swirling down my drain--it's purpose has been served.

In Ghana you don't waste drinkable water. You just DON'T. You combine last night's water with today's water, if you can. If you are leaving, you give your extra water to a friend (even if it did taste like chicken and rice--Fabu!). In Ghana drinkable water is much more precious than here. You don't want to see any going down a sink for something like brushing your teeth. At the same time, you don't dare brush your teeth with the tap water. In Ghana, you usually have "okay" water pressure at best, but more often you shower is like a bit of a trickily spring. Buckets come in handy. And hot water? Most places don't have it. If you are lucky enough to get a room with it you need to turn on your hot water heater about 10 minutes before you want it, and then HOPE that it will either turn out a tiny stream of very hot water, or cause the rest of your water to become almost look Warm (or maybe more like room temperature).

So. Water. on my list of things that I regularly use like a typical American when I'm in America, but it's preciousness is never far from my mind.