MacGyver is Alive and Well and Slovakian, or, How Wet Socks Changed My Life

The other day I was sipping some lukewarm, almost hot, water, and I said to Heather, “What I wouldn’t give for some ice right now.” Little did I know that in a few days, I wouldn’t need ice anymore.

One of the other ‘long-termers’ living on the Pandoor Guesthouse compound is a young Slovakian man named Jano (the j is pronounced as a y). He is working with the Jesuits in Rumbek at their training center, which focuses on teaching people about solar power and better water and sanitation practices, as well as helping them in their computer skills. Anyway, I’m not really sure what Jano’s expertise is, since he seems to know how to solve just about any problem; just like Macgyver.

The other day we were sitting with Jano after a meal and he happened to mention a way to cool down water without using refrigeration: simply put a wet sock around your water bottle and the condensation will naturally cool the water inside. Well, within half an hour of wetting the sock-water-bottle apparatus, we had noticeably cooler water. We were stunned.

You see, the reason why we don’t have a refrigerator at our fingertips is that we don’t have consistent power. Every night, from about 7pm to 10pm, the generator which provides electricity to all the Diocese of Rumbek compounds is turned on. This is the time for us to charge our cell phones and laptops and to enjoy some indoor artificial light. One of the things we’ve realized upon our arrival in Sudan is that our daily lives, as well as our computer-anchored work lives, are much more reliant on power than we thought. We’ve often thought of ourselves as living simply, which at times has been a source of pride; chips on our alternative lifestyle shoulders. Now that we’ve come to Sudan, volunteering with MCC no less, we figured it would be another step in downward mobility. But three hours of power has been an embarrassing struggle indeed.

So, thank you, Jano, for showing us how to think outside the ice box. And thank you for helping us to see one more area that we can get by without the use of a generator.

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2 comments on “MacGyver is Alive and Well and Slovakian, or, How Wet Socks Changed My Life

  1. Ian says:

    This works really well in front a fan (which of course requires power), but even better in front a moving vehicle. Wrapping a jerry can in a wet towel and tying it to the front of your vehicle as you drive will make the water down right cold.

  2. Paco says:

    Ah, drinking lukwarm/quasi hot water…Reminds Hee Eun and I of our days in Afghanistan. To keep things cold in the village we used to put water in a bottle, tie it to a rope, tie the rope to something heavy on the shore, and keep it in the river. Course that was only where the river was reasonable close, or when there was a river at all. Mostly we just drank it hot. The Afghans didn’t seem to care because they only drank hot tea anyway. I wish I had your slovakian sock advice then. Of course not having ice just makes ice so much sweeter when you finally get some. I remember every two weeks we used to ride our bikes through the desert to the next village that had a restaurant and drink half-frozen pepsis and eat fried fish. That place was the best restaurant in my whole life. Probably because of my iceless daily life. Miss you guys, and know how tough it can be sometimes. Keep up the good work.

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