Every day there are one or two funny things that make us pause and reflect on how different life here is from Massachusetts. A few examples:
Because of continued restrictions resulting from the drought, we are continuing to conserve water. Day Zero has been averted, the dams are much more full, and the restrictions have been lifted – but we are still being held to 60 liters/day/person – about 15 gallons. If you are fortunate like us, while you might try hard not to waste water, you’ve never actually had a sense of how much you are using on a daily basis. That 15 gallons/person includes ALL water consumption – toilet flushing, tooth brushing, hand washing, and the big ones – washing dishes, cleaning clothes. Things like watering lawns and cars and filling up swimming pools are still NOT permissible (although, because we have borehole water in our backyard we apparently can fill the pool on a sporadic basis). and things like bathtubs are just not possible. Last month was the first time our water consumption has ever been measured – we were quite proud that we held at 55 liters/person/day – but a) that was over the then-limit of 50 liters/day (so we were charged extra) and b) we were travelling for 8 days of the 33 day period, so in actuality our consumption was quite a bit more. (oops). We just got our bill for October and were even prouder that we only spent 45 liters/person/day (about 12 gallons).
Some of the tricks we’ve learned to conserve water:
- recycled shower water. Every bathroom in every house in Cape Town seems to have shallow plastic tubs that capture extra shower water – and believe me, that’s a lot. People were recommended to shower for only 90 seconds – which is actually quite possible; it just involves shutting the water on and off. IN any case, the water is captured and then transferred to buckets to use for toilet flushing, watering outside plants, etc. Because we mostly shower in just one bathroom, and have three around the house, this means I spend a fair amount of time each time shuttling H20 from one room to the next.
- daily showering. Really not done. Not really necessary.
- dishwasher. We run it every 2-3 days. Again, don’t really need more. Our rinsing habits have also dramatically changed; we just don’t use as much water as we used to.
- Washing machine. At first I was petrified to do laundry. I’m somewhat over that now, but for both the dishwasher and washing machine we use only the rapid cycle, eco setting. Clothes are washed in 30 minutes.
In the greater spirit of conservation, and due to the very high cost of electricity here (far more expensive than in Boston), we typically do laundry first thing in the morning, so clothes can be hung on a clothesline and thus avoid running a tiny and pretty inefficient dryer which takes a long time and uses a ton of energy. We also are very avid recyclers and composters (nod to Colin and Pam and MK) – it’s amazing how you can reduce your disposable trash by doing these things. It takes longer but it’s really a good feeling.
Bank Transfers. Feels like PayPal/Venmo all have a lot to learn. Everyone pays everyone else using EFT through regular bank accounts. It’s so very easy for us to use our mobile apps to pay everyone and anyone. Perhaps that functionality is widespread in the states and we just didn’t know it; but it sure is easy here.
Library borrowing. We have a delightful little local library around the corner from our house. Despite the fact getting a library card was a bit like accessing Fort Knox – we needed to show lease, kids birth certificates, passports, etc. – we are in!!! The systems remind me a lot of the library experience we had as a kid…..while a little bit automated, we still have little cards that are inserted in the back of our books with the return due dates stamped on them. Nothing wrong with a little childhood nostalgia!
ADVENTURE OF THE WEEK
We’ve decided we are going to start posting about an “adventure of the week” although we seem to have so may of them it’s hard to choose! This week there was lots of excitement – Luke went to overnight camp (which I’m sure he’ll write about), I visited some amazing early childhood programs and experienced both poverty and inspiration like I’ve never seen (another post coming within the next day or so), we discovered yet another amazing market with stunning sea views, and today we participated, along with about 10,000 other very cheerful people, in the Cape Town Color Run. We didn’t really know what it was about, but we showed up at the venue, on the stunning Atlantic Seaboard in Sea Point (in downtown Cape Town). Basically over the course of a 5K (which most people walked, as the crowds made the start of the Boston marathon look sparse – hard to run), you get sprayed with all types of colored paint – red, blue, yellow, pink. People of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages jumped in – and at the end all partied together, looking very much like a rainbow nation. I’m sure the kids will write more about it. It was an absolute HOOT. A few pics below; the kids will post more.