Hot Showers and Dry Underwear in Chile

This is my first blog post for 2014, so let me start by wishing all my friends, family and blog readers a very Happy New Year!

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New Year’s Eve in Valdivia, Chile

After two weeks of exploring the South of Chile (and there’s still so much left to explore), we returned to our apartment in Santiago last night after a seven hour bus ride from the black beaches of the lovely coastal village, Curanipe.

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Curanipe, Chile

I have become aware of two facts of life in the past weeks.  The first fact: It rains in the South of Chile.  A lot.  All the time.  A windy rain that soaks through your clothes and chills your bones.  Because the rain is so windy, your underwear gets soaked too.  Camping in this type of weather is not a good idea.  We learned this the hard (and wet) way.

The second fact of life I learned, is that there exists a conspiracy in Chile with the aim to prevent me from having a hot shower.  It is inconvenient to learn this fact of life when your underpants are soaking wet, to say the least.  Most of the camp grounds and backpackers where we stayed at in the past two weeks are part of the conspiracy.  Oh, they would pretend to be oblivious, of course.  There would be signs up at the camp sites that say ‘Aguas calientes’ (Hot water).  Yeah right.  The receptionist would say: “Of course we have warm water!” As if I’m crazy to even ask.

But alas, when I got to the bathrooms, I would see the disclaimer ‘hot water only between 8:30 and 11:30.  It’s a trick.  See, you try to shower after 8:30 at night and there’s no hot water.  So you think ‘I must have understood wrong; it must be 8:30 in the morning when there’s hot water.’  The next morning you would try to shower between the allocated time slots and again…no hot water! By the time you find a person to switch on a geyser it’s check out time and you are just too late, you missed your hot shower!

One time I was quick-witted enough to get a person to switch on the gas for the water in time…And even though I could see the fire burning underneath the water tank and I knew the water should be hot, it was still cold.  Just above freezing.

At two camp sites the showers were hidden so well, that we didn’t even discover them until the next morning!

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A beautiful camp site in Curanipe, but where are the showers?

The backpackers and hostals are just as sneaky.  They would have a timer next to the shower, so that you don’t waste water.  As if I would actually spend more than a minute underneath the cold shower water.

To get back to the wet underwear topic; if you stay in a backpackers, after about two days and one night of drinking together, the travellers in the backpackers are feeling comfortable enough to share complaints.  It starts with general things like cold showers and escalates to with more personal topics.  Someone would say: “I only have two clean pairs of underwear left,”  and everyone in the circle would start confessing and empathising about their underwear situation.  An awkward situation to be in, if you have passed the ‘two clean pairs’ phase some time ago, due to the previously mentioned rain storms.  In Chile street vendors sell yellow underwear during the New Year’s festivities.  It symbolises good luck.  Out of necessity, my first purchase of the new year was new underwear.  I don’t know if it’s lucky underwear, but I know it was dry and that was all that mattered.

Leaving the wet underwear situation in the old year, the shower dilemma remains like a thorn in my flesh.  After not having a proper hot shower since Christmas Eve, the one thing I desired when we arrived home, was to have a long hot shower in our apartment.  The shower was hot and fantastic.  Initially.  Until the gas ran out and I found myself under cold water, yet again.  It seems our flatmates are also part of the cold shower conspiracy…

In conclusion, as this is a time of well-wishing and joy sharing: may your 2014 be a year filled with hot showers.  And more than one pair of dry underwear.

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