Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shower at your own risk!

So, one thing that has been an adjustment for us has been hot showers (in some cases, the lack of).  We have taken some cold showers (read no hot water) and others with tepid water.  We've learned to appreciate a warm shower and good water pressure, when we do have one.  The typical shower in Guatemala looks like the one at our homestay below.

Most Guatemalas have a calientador to make hot water in the shower, similar to the one pictured below.  Yes, that is electrical tape on 220V 1 phase electrical service to a hot water heater that you stand under - that's why they are nicknamed "widow makers".

Actually, they are not that bad when they work.  In our house, the calientador stopped working the second week.  Our family had to have it fixed by a handyman from another Town outside Xela, so this took a couple days to fix.  In the meantime, Ben played a soccer game and the host family, being mothers, heated up hot water for him to hand bathe in.  Krista was jealous.

Anyway, hot water (and electricity) is a luxury usually found only in urban and semi-urban areas of Guatemala.  This places many rural areas without what we consider basic needs.  The engineers at AIDG (or enginerds according to Krista) are working on a solar hot water heater for rural areas.  The system heats water in small diameter pipelines on the rooftop of a house during the day, which then can be used at night for showering, etc.  More to come on AIDG in future blogs...

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