Friday, January 7, 2011

In Hot Water

Some things in life are important to me. Lots of protein for breakfast. Coffee. Fast (or at least functional) internet connections. Nice, long, hot (but not too hot) showers. That last one is something that I'm famous for in my family. When I first moved over to Barcelona, my sister asked me if I had warned my new roommates that I take long showers and use lots of hot water. It's funny but I actually had told them right when I got there that the water and gas bills would be going up with my arrival. Only occasionally having those nice, long, hot showers is one thing that I've had to learn to adjust to while traveling. For example, when you check into a hotel and you go to take a shower and find this:

Those of you with a single controller for your hot and cold water are probably asking "so what" when you see this setup. But wait, take a second look:

That's correct! Only one controller...for cold water...ONLY!!! It's sort of like one-size-fits-all--it'll work but you're not super happy. I've been pretty lucky so far that almost everywhere I've been this past year has had both hot and cold water. I even seen a couple of these:

It's a plug-in inline hot water heater and I've seen them now in both Peru and Colombia. You need to keep the water volume down to keep the temps up but they work pretty well. I do have to admit that I was a bit frightened the first time (and still a little each time) I saw electrical-tape connections AND an outlet in the shower but I almost consider myself lucky now as the alternative, cold-water-only, was averted once again.

I know, I know. Bwah! Bwah! Darren's out seeing the world, that lucky bastard, and he's complaining about cold-water showers. Actually, I'm not complaining. I figured it out and I've got it pretty good! :-) No, what I wanted to share today is how they do it "on the farm" out in Chiquinquira. Here's a hint:

My day at the Chiquinquira Spa starts (after some protein and caffeine, of course) with a pot of water on the stove. The large pot in the photo above takes about 20-30 minutes to bring to a boil. Once my water is hot enough, I move to the lush gardens where bathing occurs. In the garden there is a five-gallon bucket or two that I get to use. The hot water gets poured into one of the buckets and I add fresh Colombian spring water to the mix until I have water that's the purrfect temperature.

Getting to sit on the wooden stool, which are commonly used in Japan during bathing, is a special treat here. Using the small plastic bowl, I get rinsed. I then soap up, quickly rinse again, and then dry myself as quickly as possible. Remember that, even though Colombia's down near the equator, Bogota and Chiquinquira are up at about 8,500 feet (~2,500 meters) so the mornings are brisk and one risks permanent shrinkage out there in the garden if you don't work fast enough.

Bathing this way is kinda' fun. It definitely makes me appreciate hot water even more than I did before. I'd like to take this chance to thank my mom and dad for the millions of gallons of hot water I used during my teenage years. Here's to you:


  1. Best post ever! lol Please get some sun on that chest;-)

  2. I'm working on my tan. First I do my neck and arms. When those are good and brown, I go out and burn my chest and back... :-)


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