Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday 29th September – feeling more at home

I have had several emails from friends concerned about my various difficulties here in Ed Damer, particularly the water situation and lack of privacy.  I am glad to say that after a couple of weeks, I am feeling far more settled.  Guida, the headmaster’s wife, cadged an excellent plastic urn with a filter from a relative which now has pride of place in the teachers’ accommodation specially for my use.  I have a large supply of plastic bottles that I carry around with me full of (easily replenished) filtered water.  Privacy is still an issue, but I do realise that this is a cultural difference that I just have to adjust to. 

In spite of the language barrier, I feel a rapport with the two teachers who share the accommodation, Esan and Waheeda.  We get by with signs and telling each other Arabic and English words.  The students are still wildly excited whenever they spot me and some descend into giggles if I speak to them. I wonder how long it will take for me to seem normal to them.
I have spent the last two nights staying with the headteacher.  Yesterday Guida and I went to visit a relative of Osman’s who is about to leave on the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.  This is a once in a lifetime event, so is celebrated with a big meal.  The house was Osman’s family home and is built in the local style (single storey, mud-built, flat roofs with several rooms separated by courtyards).  It is permanent home to several branches of the family, who all live together as a small community.  The relative who is going to Mecca is a woman, so this was a women-only party.  There were several babies, all being breastfed as we ate and lots of slightly older children, many of whom spent their time peeping through the windows at me and disappearing whenever I looked at them.  As everywhere, the food was very good.  I am getting quite accomplished at eating with my right hand now.
As next week is exam week, the students and many teachers came into school today for revision lessons even though it is the weekend.  This morning I had a revision class sprung on me with only ten minutes notice.  The exams are completely written, with no oral section.  My role was therefore purely to jog their memories about vocabulary.  I used my strategy of getting the silent majority of the class to contribute as much as possible.  In spite of the rather uninspiring nature of the lesson, the students still behaved afterwards as though I was the best thing ever.
Once the exams are over, I want to tackle the struggling students in a more focused way.  I am therefore reading materials for inspiration.  I keep coming up against the major hurdle of lack of general knowledge about subjects outside the immediate area.  There is a limit to how many times I want to discuss their families and locality with them.  I would love to get them inventing stories around the class, but suspect this will fall flat due to lack of understanding.  Any suggestions gratefully received.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wednesday 26th September – ups and downs

I woke today after a very bad night’s sleep.  One of the drawbacks for a westerner living in Sudanese teacher accommodation is the constant invasion of privacy.  In the UK we take for granted the fact that, even in a shared flat, once you close your bedroom door you have some time to yourself.  This is not the case here.  Everyone feels free to wander in, teacher or student.  Last night was a particularly bad incidence: long after I had fallen asleep, the gate to the school area (directly behind my bed) opened and troops of girls came through on their way to their neighbouring courtyard, some shaking me awake to say ‘Hello’.  There is a genuine lack of understanding of a culture which is not ‘all one big family’.  I am hoping that SVP can help me find a suitable place to live off site, but realise that they will also battle against local attitudes to do this.  If a woman on her own in the market is unheard of, imagine a woman living alone.  If the second volunteer materialises in November, perhaps we will be in a better position as two women together.

Once I had gone into school, things looked up.  I was invited to lunch in a different subject office.  Up till now I have eaten with the English Department (pictured) and apparently all the other departments want a chance.  We had deep fried fish and ful (bean stew).  Afterwards they were very insistent that I stay and help them speak English, which I did. 
By request I was asked to do the ‘Old woman who swallowed a fly’ lesson for a class later in the day, so it clearly wasn’t the flop that I felt it had been.  As I get more practice I am definitely getting better at teaching, which is very reassuring.  Yesterday I gave a lesson using two teams to do a vocabulary test, which went well too.  I am greatly helped by the fact that my students, no matter how little they can say, are bursting with smiles and general enthusiasm.  It is very infectious and brings out the best in me in class so that I am able to give some very lively lessons.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Monday 24th September – my first class

In the morning the headmaster, Osman, took me to the souk with him to help me buy anything I need.  I was in desperate need of bottled water as the water in Ed Damer is 50% mud.  Facilities in the teachers’ accommodation do not allow for storing boiled water as the kettle and fridge are tiny and much used by all.  I have been using my water bottle which has a water filter.  Unfortunately the filter is not reusable and has clogged rapidly, which only allows me a trickle, when I am desperate for a decent amount.  I only have one spare filter.  I do have water purification tablets, but not an adequate supply for the time I am in Ed Damer.  Advice to future volunteers: bring a large supply of filters/water purification tablets. 

The souk is a men-only place.  It is composed of very traditional mud-built buildings and an area of cloth-covered stalls.  I was the only woman, let alone the only westerner.  As the headmaster is the only male staff member, he has to shop for the school catering staff as well as for his family.  Later I was told that there is a souk for women which operates on Saturdays.  Otherwise, it is impossible for women to shop by themselves.  We filled the car with large quantities of oil, vegetables, meat etc.  Osman also bought a watermelon and two types of tea (mint and karkaday, a local herb which tastes rather like blackcurrant) and a large pack of bottles of water for me.  He and I had had a conversation in advance in which he was very firm that I was not allowed to pay for anything as I am a guest.  In the time I have been in Ed Damer I have spent absolutely nothing. 
Today was a red letter day for me as I gave my very first lesson ever.  I asked the Head of English for a teaching timetable and was given several classes instantly.  My lesson was an attempt to teach the year 2 class the rhyme ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly’.  The purpose was to get the students to enjoy speaking aloud, without reading from text and without hesitation.  After going through the rhyme with miming actions a couple of times (earning some laughs as planned), I asked the class to divide into groups and attempt to reconstruct the poem between them using only English.  As noticed previously, those at the front latched on immediately while those at the back struggled.  I am going to use a better group system next time to have a mix of abilities working together.  At each part of the lesson I tried to get the class to speak together, copying the words.  They found this very difficult indeed, which I hadn't expected. The next lesson I give will be to a different class in same year group.  I already know from their teacher that they need help with particular vocabulary, so I am going to do vocabulary games with them. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday 23rd September – insights into school life

After my weekend with Osman and his family, I returned to the school on Saturday evening at the same time as the returning boarders and the resident teachers.  The students went straight back into their classrooms for two hours of silent study.  I have been told that there is a real ‘them and us’ about the types of students at the school.  The boarders are from remote village families.  Educational expectations for them are very low in their own communities.  They are expected to go straight from school to arranged marriages.  The day students generally come from more educated backgrounds and are more likely to go on to university and have careers.  The school wants the best education for all their students and watches with despair.  The boarders’ evening lessons are a way of trying to compensate and help these girls.

I saw this first hand today (Sunday) on two occasions.  I attended an English lesson early in the day in which I sat at the back of the class and was asked to share a textbook with a girl who had positioned herself as far from the action as possible.  Most of the class eagerly kept their hands raised, keen to take part in the lesson.  This girl showed no sign of understanding anything, never contributed and seemed very sleepy.  Afterwards the teacher explained that she was a village child.
Later on, I sat with the English teachers in their office.  A very young woman, not in school uniform came into the room.  She was returning her school books because she is going to be married very shortly and can’t continue to study.  After she had left, the teachers told me that it is an arranged marriage.  The girl really wanted to continue her education but was unable to do so.  Everyone felt very sad for her.

On the positive side, at the end of classes, when the day students are supposed to go home and the boarders rest, I was mobbed by girls wanting to talk English to me.  I think that with attitudes like these, it should be relatively easy for an inexperienced teacher such as myself to help them.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Friday 21st September – a wedding in Atbara

I slept very badly on Thursday night.  I was very nauseous and think I must have eaten or drunk something that disagreed with me.  The weather is even hotter than Khartoum, to a point of being unbearable in the heat of the day, which I think is a contributing factor.  On Friday I was only capable of eating the most basic things, bread, salad and fruit.  I stuck firmly to my filtered water.  This was a major nuisance and very embarrassing to me as a guest, although everyone was very nice about it. 

The Bride
In the afternoon we went to a wedding across the river in Atbara.  Weddings in Sudan have various sections over several days, and also vary from tribe to tribe.  Today’s part was held at the bride’s family home and celebrated the handing over of the dowry (from groom to bride) and signing of documents.  Afterwards there was music (bagpipes and drums) and dancing.  As with the first wedding I attended, men and women sat in separate rooms.  This all changed when the music started.  Guida, the headmaster’s wife, interpreted for me.  Everyone wanted to speak to me as it is extremely rare to have a foreigner in this part of Sudan.  All apart from one tiny child who was clearly terrified when asked to shake my hand.  By the end of the event, I managed to get her to smile, which I felt was a triumph.
When it was time to go, Guida couldn’t start the engine.  This is the second day this has happened.  The first day we all thought it was the battery, but the battery has been changed since then.  We were given a lift back by somebody at the wedding.
When we arrived back, I showered and went straight to bed. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Thursday 20th September – first full day in Ed Damer

I woke in the courtyard before dawn, after a very refreshing night’s sleep in the breeze, to find that everyone else was already up, including the students, all smoothly and silently getting ready for the day, doing their teeth, washing, carrying their beds back indoors etc.  I copied everyone else.  Later I was told that everyone wakes at 2am to pray.  I slept through this completely.  At 7.30am school started with assembly.  Assembly included a team quiz of Islamic knowledge and a speech from the headmaster.  I was asked to give a brief introductory speech to the school, which I did.  Some pupils arrived late, but this is not treated as naughtiness, as it would be in the UK, because it is understood that they are day students who have a very long journey to school each morning.

I met lots of teachers, including several English language teachers.  It is going to take me some time to sort out their names.  One of the English teachers invited me to come to her first lesson of the day.  The lesson was on direct and reported speech.  The enthusiasm of the students was very noticeable, although their language is extremely limited.  Instead of putting up their hands, they click their fingers.  There was a great deal of clicking during the lesson.  Again, I spoke to the class briefly at the end of the lesson.  Like the teachers, the students are all very welcoming and smile at me a lot.
Teachers' offices
After the class I was taken to the English teachers’ office, where I spent the rest of the morning talking to other teachers.  They are very keen to have English Clubs both for themselves and for the students.  We all ate in the office from a shared dish and talked about many subjects, comparing UK and Sudan.  Various tiny children poked their faces round the door with their eyes on stalks, clearly never having seen a European before.  Many teachers bring their babies and small children to school with them because of a lack of childcare in Ed Damer.  This doesn’t seem to interfere with teaching, which is interesting given the debate on the pros and cons of taking children to work in the UK. 
The school day ended early because it is the long weekend that happens every fortnight.  In the afternoon I was invited to the headmaster’s house for the weekend.  I have had a quiet afternoon, helping prepare vegetables and reading my various English text books for inspiration for exciting ideas for the English Club and first lessons.

Wednesday 19th September – Ed Damer at last!

Yesterday I travelled to Ed Damer, accompanied by Rami.  We arrived in the afternoon and went first to the local branch of the Ministry of Education to deal with the administrative side of things.  Then we went straight to the school.  Rami was rather concerned because the school’s plan is for me to stay in the single teachers’ accommodation on campus.  He insisted, in spite of the fact that men are not allowed in, on checking my room personally.  It is very basic, however I did not come looking for a luxury experience of Sudan.  I told him that I would be fine.  He said that if not, I must let him know.  Before he left for Khartoum, we ate together, courtesy of the teachers’ mess, who provided a very good and substantial meal.  The headteacher, Osman, has agreed that if it is difficult for me, I can stay with his family.  The fellow residents are very friendly and helpful, but speak no English at all.  We get by with gesture.  My Arabic will improve I hope.  There are apparently 6 English teachers who I will meet shortly, but none of them use this accommodation, so I am in a completely Arabic speaking environment.

Later, the teachers helped me move my bed outside as nobody sleeps inside at this time of year due to the heat.  This is a great relief to me after my good experience at Rami’s village.  They took me on a tour of the school, which was very interesting.  It is a semi-boarding school as a lot of the girls come from villages too far away for daily travel.  The girls were still working in their classrooms (at 8.30pm) presumably doing homework.  They were clearly avid to meet me.  As far as I could understand there are three classes which I will teach, each of 40 – 60 pupils.  However in the first few days I will attend English classes to watch the teachers teach, so I can show them ways to get their pupils to speak.  Currently this does not happen.
After looking around the school the headmaster arrived.  He gave a long speech to the girls about events in the next two weeks.  Apparently every two weeks the boarders go home for a long weekend.  They leave tomorrow and always have this speech before they leave.  They were hanging on his words, which were clearly very interesting and sometimes made them laugh.
Boarders prepare for the night
Afterwards, we teachers ate together and then went to bed.  The students also sleep outside in the next courtyard.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

15th September – there and back again

Today the advice from SVP changed to avoiding crowded places, rather than having to stay indoors.  I had been invited to go to an Arabic/English Exchange class this afternoon, so I was pleased about that.  As instructed I went to the local bus station but had great difficulty locating the right bus.  Finally a very helpful gentleman put me on the bus.  I called to let Judith, who runs the exchange, know I was on my way so she could meet me at the other end.  Unfortunately her phone was switched off, so I was unable to contact her.  As a result I arrived at a completely unfamiliar place with no idea where to go.  After waiting a while I decided to go back to the flat.  I asked some people at a tea stall where to catch the bus to Arabi.  They invited me to sit and drink some tea with them while I waited for the bus, which I did.  We had a nice chat.  The tea lady absolutely refused payment.  This goes above and beyond the hospitality I have experienced in Khartoum so far.  I strongly suspect that it is ordinary people’s way of showing their solidarity against the video/embassy protests situation. 

In the month that I have been in Sudan everyone I have talked to, without exception, has been very keen for friendly relations with the outside world. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

14th September – trip to Khalifa’s house and the Mahdi’s tomb

Today, Omar came to take me to visit some interesting historical sites.  We drove to Omdurman, stopping briefly to see a British gunship which was dredged up from the Nile a few years ago.  It is in remarkably good condition.  There is a backdrop of reconstructed mud bunkers and huts to give an idea of the Mahdist defences. 
Gun boat
The Mahdi was an Islamic leader who is considered the first African opponent of colonisation.  He defeated Gordon but died soon afterwards.  I did not enter the tomb, which is considered a very important Islamic site.  We then visited the house of his successor, Khalifa Abdullah, which is just across the road.  It is a lovely house with beautiful woodworked ceilings.  The Khalifa lived and governed from this house.  General Kitchener was sent to avenge Gordon’s death.   There is a collection of Mahdist armaments, which show clearly how easily Kitchener must have defeated them.  According to my guidebook, British losses were 48 with 434 wounded.  By contrast the Mahdist army lost 10,000 men.  According to Churchill, who served in the Battle of Omdurman, the Mahdist army looked as though they had stepped straight off the Bayeau Tapestry, with their spears and patched tunics.
Afterwards, we went to a lovely fish restaurant for lunch and had beautifully fresh deep-fried Nile fish with salad and bread.  There was far too much, so I had enough fish and bread for my next meal.  This proved to be just as well: soon after I arrived back at the flat I had a message from Becca, the SVP coordinator, to say that we should all stay at home and avoid going out if possible as there were serious demonstrations at the British, German and American Embassies due to some fool putting up an inflammatory anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
Since I last wrote, I have been told that I will be leaving for Ed Damer on Monday following a meeting at the Ministry of Education which will take place on Sunday.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

11th September - my birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.  To celebrate, we all went to an Indian restaurant.  When we ordered, several items even on the limited menu were unavailable.  Even so, the food was very good and very reasonably priced. 

Becca has asked me to pick a day to leave for Ed Damer.  I have decided to go this Friday as Rami has invited us all to a concert on Thursday evening.  The last few weeks have felt like being in a waiting room with a great unknown beyond.  Much as Khartoum has been an interesting experience, I would like to get on with the job I came to do.  All my knowledge of teaching English is completely theoretical, so the thought of hands-on teaching to a very large class is daunting, but putting it off won’t make it easier.  It is a shame my fellow volunteer has fallen through, at least for the time being (apparently she would like to come in November).  Thankfully I have been told that I will be well supported by a local family.
In the meantime, I am reading my newly acquired teaching materials and putting together ideas for my first lessons.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

9th September Republican Palace Museum

Today, walking back from Mass, I took a different route and spotted the Republican Palace Museum, which I hadn’t visited yet.  It is housed in the old Anglican church, which is a lovely building built at the beginning of the 20th century.  Like both the other museums I have visited, entry is free.  It is a small museum which houses a chronology of events in the struggle for independence from Britain, followed by the earlier presidents, leading up to the present day.  Half the museum is devoted to gifts from other Heads of State or Sudanese industries and states to the current President.  The most beautiful was a very intricate Koran and case from Yasser Arafat.  There is also a collection of vintage state cars dating from colonial times to more recent times.

In the afternoon I met up with an English teacher at the British Council to be given useful teaching materials. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Trip to Rami's village and the pyramids at Meroe

Rami very kindly arranged for all the new volunteers to stay overnight at his family’s village about 40 minutes north of Shendi.  It is very close to the pyramids at Meroe.  It was the first time any of us has been outside Khartoum.  We took a privately hired minibus and left on a very straight well maintained road.  There were several security checkpoints on the way.  We stopped for lunch in Shendi, where we had a very enjoyable fish lunch with date juice. 

When we reached the village it was already the heat of the day, so we had a rest.  The village is built of mud and looks extremely basic.  There are no obvious shops or stalls, just high mud walls with gates.  However, when we went into the house, this turned out to be deceptive.  The interior is clean and very comfortable with more than one courtyard and several rooms containing many beds (Jennifer counted 25) which are also used as seats or sofas.  There is running water which is used to fill several barrels.  There is electricity and gas.  Since 2009 the village has had satellite TV.  The women of the family are both teachers and speak some English.  Education in Sudan is compulsory and free.

After our rest, we went to see the pyramids. We were the only tourists.  There were several small stalls selling souvenirs.  There were also several camels with drivers very keen to attract customers.  I had a camel ride for the equivalent of £1 UK money.  The pyramids belonged to the Meroite kings and queens.  They are different in several ways from the Egyptian pyramids.  The pyramids are solid, with the tombs build underneath.  Most also have a small temple at the front, facing east.  They are smaller and have a much sharper slope.  The gods worshiped and the artwork, are completely Egyptian though.  Unfortunately they are in a ruinous state due to the appalling behaviour of a 19th century Italian treasure seeker called Ferlini, who dismantled many of them from the top in his search for gold.  He also took carved reliefs and the small amount of treasure he found back to Europe.
After seeing the pyramids, we drove back to the village.  Due to the Nile flooding we were unable to visit the royal city of Meroe.  Instead we saw some very happy small boys swimming in the flooded area.  Afterwards we saw a local ceremony in which young men wearing traditional white robes have to leap up and down competitively. The whole village was watching, with men on one side and women on the other.  Jennifer and I caused quite a stir among the small girls who all came to have their photos taken and ask our names.
Then we went back to the house and sat talking.  Jennifer and I were asked if we would like to have our hands and feet hennaed.  This is traditionally done for weddings.  We both agreed.  Jennifer also had her hair hennaed.  It was a very lengthy process which took up the rest of the evening, using the family’s own henna which grows in the courtyard.  The whole family were delighted.  One of the young men sang a special ‘henna’ song while I was done.  Afterwards we had a very late supper of bean stew, tammaya, pancakes and bread before going to bed.  Jennifer and Martin had a room to themselves as they are a married couple.  The rest of us had to go in different directions as men sleep in one half of the building, and women in the other.  I slept with the women in the courtyard and had my best night’s sleep so far, due to the gentle breeze.  In the morning we returned to Khartoum.  The trip made a very nice break from Khartoum.  It was lovely to see a slice of real Sudanese life.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

4 September – the end of our stay in Khartoum is in sight

Before going to the last session of our induction today, Rami took Jennifer, Martin and me to the Aliens Office for an HIV test.  This is the culmination of Rami’s work in organising our official paperwork, such as a residence permit and internal visas so that we can go to our respective towns and start teaching.  It is not possible to travel in Sudan without visas for each place.  The Sudanese government insists that in order to protect the country, all foreign residents have to have an HIV test.  We expect to leave for our placements sometime next week.

We have now come to the end of our induction, which was very helpful, particularly as we now have far more idea of local expectations and the way Sudanese schools work.  There was a very useful session on how to teach large classes, which was not covered in my TEFL course.

Monday, 3 September 2012

SVP Induction 2 -4 September

For the next three days all the new volunteers (me, Raj, Jennifer, Martin and another volunteer who we haven’t met before called Robert) will be having our induction at the Institute of Education, which is part of the University of Khartoum.  We start at 10am each morning and finish at 2pm.  Lunch is provided.  This is the first year there has been an induction.  It is run by the Director of the Institute of Education, a very committed woman who is extremely keen to improve standards of English in Sudan.  She was able to answer many questions about the school system.  We can expect very large classes of about 50 students.  Schools are single sex.  Students are keen to learn, but very shy.  Standards of English are very low (beginner level).  Students are used to passive learning systems (teacher talk and chalk).  However, it is important when teaching a language to avoid this and get the students to do the talking, which could cause raised eyebrows in the schools.  We were reminded of the importance of lesson plans, and told about strategies for teaching effectively to large classes.  Nationwide, Thursdays are set apart for extra-curricular activities.  This should include an ‘English Club’ which we will be asked to organise.  The English Club aims to get students to talk in a natural way, via discussion topics, games etc.

Raj moved out to his own flat on Sunday evening, so I am now the only resident in the SVP flat.  I am taking the opportunity to play my viola, play my CDs and generally treat the flat as my own rather than worrying about other people.  I am also starting a large spring-clean, which the flat sorely needs.  To my enormous relief the water came back on at 4pm, after a 28 hour gap.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Omdurman Souq

This morning I got up early and decided to visit Omdurman Souk, which is the largest market in Sudan and is recommended in my guidebook as somewhere every tourist must visit.  Khartoum is divided into three separate cities.  Omdurman is the city to the north-west, several miles away from central Khartoum.  To get there I decided that the time had come to be very daring and take a bus by myself for the first time.  I went to the local, very large and chaotic bus station.  All signs are in Arabic and the buses do not have numbers which made finding the right bus quite difficult.  However people were very helpful and pointed me in the right direction.  The bus was very cheap, the equivalent of 16 pence in UK currency.  The last stop was the souq, so I had no difficulties at the other end.  

The stalls contain everything you could need for daily living: cooking utensils, clothing, tailor shops, butchers, fruit and vegetable stalls, toiletries, jewellery etc.  It is a huge market with many small alleyways shaded with cloth.  It was not possible to see everything.  According to my guidebook there are lots of local handicraft stalls, but I did not see those.  In spite of the fact that Omdurman Souq is supposed to be a top tourist destination, I was the only foreigner.  Perhaps they were all at the handicraft section.  Donkey and horse carts are used to transport goods to the stalls.  As everywhere, lots of people wanted to talk to me.  As I was passing a tea stall, a customer asked if I would like some tea.  We sat on small stools.  The tea lady used a charcoal fire to heat the water.  I asked for no sugar, as I know that Sudanese have a very sweet tooth.  The tea was served in a small glass with a bowl of sugar next to it, as the tea lady clearly couldn't believe that anyone would want a drink without sugar.  Sudanese tea bears no resemblance to English tea.  It is heavily flavoured with spices and quite delicious.  The other customer refused to allow me to pay.  After a couple of hours wandering around the souq and talking to people I sat at a stall and had falafel for lunch. 
After lunch I took a bus back to Khartoum.  I arrived at a different part of the bus station and completely lost my bearings.  It took some time and directions from several people before I found my way back to the flat.  When I arrived I found that there was no running water. 

In the afternoon I met up with a member of another charity, Direct Action, who is a friend of a friend from London at a cafe called Papa Costa’s.  Two teachers from the British Council also came and were very helpful with advice for me, once I start teaching in Ed Damer. 
When I got back to the flat, I found that the water was still not working.  This is the second time this has happened, although the first time didn’t last as long.  Rami and Tanya, another SVP volunteer, had come to visit.  We had a very long and interesting discussion about our religious beliefs.  Rami and Tanya are both Moslem, Raj is interested in religion but doesn’t have a faith base, and I am Catholic.  We all believe in co-existence and religious tolerance.  We also share many beliefs about the nature of God, the role of suffering etc.  If only this applied to the rest of the world.
Fortunately for me, I still had some water in my water bottle from earlier in the day to sip during the night.  Otherwise I would have become seriously dehydrated.  I really missed the shower.