Throughout my tour as an embassy guard in Burundi, rebel Hutus fought with the Tutsi-run government on a regular basis. On occasion the rebels would drop mortars on the city in an attempt to disrupt the infrastructure. One time it actually worked. After a successful attack on the city power plant, not only were we out of electricity but fresh water as well.
The embassy sent their general service ninjas out on lake Tanginika to collect barrels of water. Water out in the middle of the lake was actually clean and fresh. Water near the shore was filthy, not to mention infested with crocs, hippos and other man-eating creatures big and microscopically small. We’d leave buckets of water in the bathroom to refill the toilet tanks and to shave, bathe, etc. There were back up generators at our house but the non-stop drone of the engines pushed us to the brink of committing war crimes.
This nonsense went on for over a week and eventually we grew tired of bathing out of buckets. Lack of electricity also led to boredom (#firstworldproblems). Among Marines this condition generally leads to the hatching of brilliant plans with which to entertain ourselves. Sometimes this took the form of releasing a bat into a fellow Marine’s room or chasing each other around the house while shooting fire extinguishers at each other.
One night we ran down to the American Ambassador’s house with towels and bars of soap. The Ambo himself was out of the country and all family members of State Dept personnel had long since been sent back to the States for their safety. Leaping into the pool we rub a dub dubbed, a bunch of jarheads in a tub.
It was a regular Olympic dive contest as we executed Triple Lindys, backward double pikes, and canon balled in and out of the pool while lathering up in between acrobatics. All we needed were rubber duckies and some toy ships.
Hygienically fresh and squeaky clean, we headed back to the Marine House to concoct plans for our next adventure.
A little adaptation and some improvisation will overcome a lack of plumbing every time.