Talking of clean shirts

20-12-2009

Back to water again. At the risk of mentioning the wet stuff too often in this blog, we have run out. Nta amazi tufite in the local tongue. We have none. This is supposed to be still the rainy season but it seems all rain has been suspended until further notice. We haven’t had a decent downpour in a fortnight.

So it is off to the local well. Yesterday and today, Emmannuel, our guard, and I have taken the Land Rover to fill up. We have eight jerry cans at twenty litres each which take up most of the back of the vehicle. The local water supply is found in one of the neighbours’ back gardens. This enterprising woman has invested in three trampoline-size water bags which I guess she fills from the local tanker. Think of a bouncy castle filled with water. Her children must think they live in a playground.

The process is to unload the jerry cans and carry them round to the back of the house, past a child (minus nappy), then under the washing line hanging with clothes. A hose is strapped to a tree with a piece of rubber and when removed and lowered below the level of the bags, water is siphoned into the jerry can. We fill up our stock, pay 100 francs for each jerry can and bounce back along the dirt track to the cottage.

Back in our own garden, Emmannuel climbs on top of the water tank and I pass each jerry can up to him. What amazes me is that when we are finished I look like I have been out playing in the dirt. I have. My t-shirt is soaked, my arms and shorts are covered in red mud, and the back of the vehicle doesn’t look a lot better. There is Emmannuel in a Persil-white shirt and immaculate knee-length shorts looking as if he has just come back from church. Perhaps if I learned how to stay clean, we wouldn’t need to go out and buy 160 litres of water each day.