I have been on many business trips, but none like this.
It’s chilly in the room when I wake up, but the heavy wool blanket and down duvet has kept we warm all night. It’s not the chill that wakes me during the night, it’s the dogs barking at the roaming hippos or its one of the three phones that I am traveling with sounding off to alert me to some recurring scheduled event in some far off place called North America – but I digress.
I untangle from the mosquito net that has kept me malaria free for another day and I pad across the honey brown wood floor to the fireplace, stoking the embers to see if it can be lit. This morning I use 10 pages of business articles that I travel with in my “Stuff to Read” folder – and that is actually getting read on this trip. I don’t know if reading the pages or burning them has been more beneficial.
With the embers and half burnt logs provoked enough, but still not in flames, I was across the entry hall (unheated) to the bathroom (unheated and on an outside wall where there is a metal framed window that does not close all the way) to turn on the shower.
The shower – deluxe by local standards – so I am not complaining – just noting how different my hot house orchid life is so different from this wild flower existence – has the ability to kill. Kind of a tortuous way to start the day and not usually found in your average hotel.
The water supply is piped in though an in room water heater which is powered by a thickly wrapped wire that snakes out of a hole in the wall. My trusty Themex Pocket heater has two temperature settings – scalding and cold. I prefer scalding. I have the hot shower run to heat up my bathroom and head back to the bedroom to check on the fire and put my clothes on the fireside leopard print armchair. I brush my teeth with bottled water and head back to the bath.
This morning my bathtub has a few dozen bugs, some flyers, some crawlers, nothing outside of what you might find at your summer cottage – on the floor of the tub. So I pick up the hand held shower head and begin to spray down the tub. With that both the lights on the water heater and the lights in the room flicker. So a put the shower head back on the holder and vow never to move it again.
Even in the best situations I like to keep water and electricity at a healthy distance. Since I am not ready to give up hot water, I will just be careful with this odd couple arrangement.
Back in Chicago I never think about the fact that the water we use daily has passed by fish and fauna, but I do find it amazing that just a few minutes ago any water here as most likely flowed by the hippos that are in the river nearby.
Slightly scalded, but not electrocuted, I return to my bedroom and dress by the fire that may or may not come to life – because fire, just like electricity has a bit of a mind of its own and performs on its time, not mine.
Fresh, dressed and ready for the day. Within the hour I will be with my students, some of which have ventured forth from their homes, many of which might not have running water, indoor plumbing or electricity to take a two hour Matatu (bus-taxi) ride to our classroom, so who am I to complain about a bug or a loose wire or water that is too hot?