Life without amenities

There are many chores and activities which in America would take mere minutes to complete. Those same tasks can be a much more tedious process here in my home in Armenia. It just so happened that several of those chores needed to be completed today.

Cleaning the dishes: happens just about every day, but now that it’s warming up, it is becoming more frequent. My house has no refrigerator or freezer, which in the winter is not a problem, but during the summer it means I must make most of my food every day because there is no way to keep it. This means I must wash those used dishes several times a week. My water comes from a hose-like source outside and I’ve been using it much more frequently now that it is warmer. I bring all the dirty dishes, along with the dish soap and scrubbers, to the hose and spend about 10 minutes squatting while I get them all sparkling clean (that 10 minutes, combined with nature of my toilet facilities, means my legs do a fair amount of squatting each day). A dishwasher was nice, though even hand washing in a sink with hot water seems like a luxury now.

Cooking: not too bad today. Just some hardboiled eggs for breakfast and some rice/lentils/noodles for the rest. Basically just boiling things on a camping stove.

Bathing: no shower, meaning bucket baths. I do have a (concrete) room with a drain that is intended for bathing, but it doesn’t help too much. I’ve borrowed a solar shower from other volunteers, but it’s been too rainy to really use. Besides not having hot flowing water, the most inconvenient part is bringing all the gear (towel, soap, shampoo, sandals, bucket, chair) to the bathing room. What was once a 5-10 minute process in the states become at least 30 + here, and much less pleasurable, which is why I don’t do it often. I went for a run today, so I felt obligated. What I usually do every night before I go to bed is wash my feet in a basin with hot water and sometimes use a baby wipe (thanks Mom) to get the upper-body.

Laundry: I had lots of dirty socks. Instead of throwing everything in a magic machine, I have to heat up water, at soap, and scrub them all by hand. I put them in another bucket with clean water. I empty the first one, rinse it out. The clothing is rung out (jeans are a pain), and put back in the now empty first bucket. I hang them on the line. Wait a day. Anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour +, depending upon the load.

Drinking Water: don’t have it. I bring it from the center of the village, which isn’t too far, and put it through my filter. This was basically the only water I used during the winter when the hose outside was frozen.


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