The doors of my host family’s house in Chokati are always open. There is a constant stream of friends and relatives filtering in and out to share tea, a meal, or conversation. There were so many guests that for the first few days in Chokati, I wasn’t even sure who was in my family and who was an uncle or friend. The openness and communal atmosphere of Chokati has been one of my favorite parts of our village homestay.
Still, one of the aspects of this communal lifestyle I wasn’t prepared for was the public bathing. I was able to get by for a couple of days by by taking the occasional half-shower to keep the grime at bay. But when I felt my hair hardening because of the buildup of grease, I knew it was time to relent.
I went to the tap behind Emma and Marshall’s houses, pulled the waistband of my skirt up under my arms like a dress, and began.
A couple of minutes into clumsily attempting to wash my hair with one hand and hold the hose with the other, I heard laughter coming from behind me. What seemed to be Emma and Marshall’s entire families were hanging out their windows laughing at my inexpertise. After a few minutes more, a girl around my age decided to help me out. She came down and took the hose out of my hand, and I had my first assisted shower since around age 3.
Though the initial crowd was disconcerting, I will remember my first semi-successful village shower as another instance of the willingness to help out a neighbor that I have enjoyed so much in Chokati.
(Photo is me and the family buffalo)