Sunday, May 22, 2016

We're in Hot Water

Photo credit: Kyra Lindstrom. This is Kyra's
water container that she keeps in her ger. She
uses a different, larger, sturdier container to
transport the water from the well.
I must preface this with the fact that I know Mongolia, for volunteers in apartments especially, is relatively nice in terms of living conditions compared to many other Peace Corps countries. We have electricity. We have refrigerators. We have running water and flushing toilets. We have heat in the winter. It is so easy to get internet access.

That being said, it wasn’t too difficult to get used to not having hot water, knowing that there are so many people out there who don’t have running water period, especially with so many of our fellow Mongolian PCVs living in gers. These real MVPs either have water delivered on a regular basis from someone in their haashaa family or school (if they’re lucky), or they must go to the nearest well to get water themselves. This means they either muscle it out and carry their water containers, or more commonly, they use some sort of wheeled cart.

Once they have the water in their ger, there is a lot of work involved. Most gers have a plastic device above their sink which holds water. From it extends a long spout. When you push up on the spout, it releases water. This is how ger dwellers wash their hands and brush their teeth and whatnot.

For drinking water, all PCVs are given a large water filter. Since we are not from Asia, our bodies aren’t used to the different enzymes. It’s not that the water is unclean or unfit for human consumption, but since we are from the other side of the world, we are used to different bacteria and whatnot in our water and our bodies aren’t used to the water here. Therefore, water filters. Using these filters isn’t so different between apartment and ger dwellers. We fill up a large bowl or pot with water from the sink and dump it into our filter. Ger dwellers do the same, but they get the water from one of their larger water containers usually.
Photo credit: Kyra. These are her tumpins she uses to bathe and
rinse clothing after washing them. 

Then there’s bathing. We might have written about this during PST, but ger dwellers bathe using a tumpin, which is a round plastic tub. Of course, it takes a while to get used to, with trying to keep all the water contained and not splashing water on the floor. During the summer, I would wash my hair, bathe, wash my clothing, then clean my floor with the same water. After bathing, ger dwellers have to carry the water outside and dump it out.

Photo credit: Kyra. This is Kyra rinsing her clothes in a tumpin.
And washing clothes. Kyra, our resident ger dweller, as well as all of us living in the aimag center are lucky enough to have washing machines. It is more common for ger dwellers to have to hand wash everything using their tumpins. Still, even with a washing machine, it is much more difficult to do this in a ger. We stick our shower head into the washer and turn it on until it fills up. Kyra has to do all the heavy water lifting without the help from running water.

With every trip to the capitol, I am always initially surprised when I turn on a facet and hot water comes out. Being able to adjust water temperature is truly a magical thing.

But now, thanks to our land lady, we have hot water!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

We don’t have hot water all the time, and it’s not unlimited. We have a 40 liter water heater in our bathroom. This means that we no longer have to heat up water using our stove for an hour before we want to bathe. We just have to plug in our water heater and give it about an hour to heat up. It’s much less work. It uses a lot of electricity, or else we would keep it plugged in all the time. It’s SO nice to have hot water coming out of the actual pipes. We are going to eventually rig up a shower curtain and figure out how to suspend the shower head so we can take showers. This will be a summer project.

However, whenever a good thing happens, it feels like there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Spring in Mongolia means rain and snow. The same day we got the great news of the new water heater (back in early May), there was a lot of snow which caused the ceiling in our bedroom to leak. It’s slowly falling apart. We told our landlady. Last weekend, I heard some people working on the roof right above out bedroom, so maybe they fixed something. We won’t be able to know until the next rain. Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem like a big concern to our landlady that our ceiling looks like it’s experienced an earthquake. Oh well.

In other news, I recently cut my hair. I decided to do it myself, since I didn’t want anything fancy. I just wanted to get rid of the split ends and add a little bit of layering. See for yourself! My first ever attempt at cutting my own hair. 




After - Not a big difference here, just a little shorter


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