Tag Archives: water

PC Year One — Cape Verde: At the Laundromat

Jen at CV Laundromat

Our house in Cape Verde* had running water. We (Jen) usually filled basins and then washed the laundry in the backyard. Occasionally our water would stop working for several days, however, and then we did the laundry (and bathed) in the nearby stream, about 100 yards away. You can see my contribution to the process in the photo below.

Adam with Laundry

*Though Jen and I spent the first half of our Peace Corps service in Cape Verde, most of the photos we’ve shared on this blog have been of our second post — Benin. The next several weeks’ posts will be a flashback to our first year of service spent on the lovely island of Santiago.


Drawing Pump Water

Drawing Pump Water

Water from a tank (see yesterday’s post) is usually filtered and drawn from a covered well so is cleaner than normal well water. In addition, its much easier to fill a basin or a bucket from a tap than to pull up buckets of water from a deep well. Thus, homes with water tanks sell the water to neighbors. Jen and I pay 10 cfa ($0.02) per bucket that we use for drinking water. Jen and I carry our bucket with the attached handle as done in the US. Most Beninese carry their buckets and basins on their heads as seen below. When I try to carry our bucket like that, half of the water sloshes out onto my head to the amusement of my neighbors.


Running Water

Running Water

Running water inside of one’s house is still rare in Benin. My estimate is that less than 10% of people in our town, only 15 minutes from Benin’s capital of Porto Novo, have running water. Like Jen and I, many people draw water from a well. As there is no city water system, running water is achieved by pumping water from a well up into a tank like this.

The Month When the Year’s Rain Starts







In Gun (our local language) March is xwejisun—“the month when the year’s rain starts.” It’s the hottest part of the year now, so we’re excited for the cooling rains. We’ve had a couple downpours, but the best was one truly gigantic lightning storm that lit up the sky for hours and brought the temperature down by about 20 degrees. Adam and I sat on the porch whooping with joy until the chilly, driving rain sent us indoors. For hours before and after the rains passed over us, the sky was flashing nonstop, and Adam make some long-exposure self-portraits.


Yesterday morning, the skies held potential for rain again, but the clouds passed and burned away. I’m excited about the rainy season because it will cool off, but also because we can collect the water that pours off our back roof, and it means less time pulling water from the well!

Ghana #2: Ada Foah to Woe

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My favorite part of Ghana was the southeast corner, where we took a market-day ferry across the mouth of the Volta River. The ferry makes a single weekly run, traveling eastward in the morning and returning westward in the evening.


The ferry connects the dead ends of two road networks and stops at many villages in between that have no land access whatsoever. This is one of the smaller stops.


Apparently this market is a big go-to for firewood. There’s our ferry in the background, practically hidden.

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Wastewater Treatment Plant (Water Hyacinth)

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Wastewater Treatment Plant

The town does not have a wastewater treatment facility. Wastewater from cleaning and bathing as well as human and animal waste go directly into the lake. The plant in the foreground, water hyacinth, helps purify the water and keep it healthy for fish and other life. According to NASA research, “Water hyacinths thrive on sewage; they absorb and digest wastewater pollutants, converting sewage effluents to relatively clean water.”


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Potable Water

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Potable Water

We stopped for lunch across from a house equipped with a well that dispensed potable water through a big hose. Dozens of people filled their barrels and buckets while we ate lunch. The person filling their vessels pulled up under the porch of the house and the hose was dropped down. The barrels were filled and the next canoe would move into place. The canoes leaving the house, like this one, sat low in the water.