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22 December 2012 / leggypeggy

On showers—savour the differences

Banfora Falls, Burkina Faso

A crowded bathing spot at Banfora Falls, Burkina Faso

We had a great. although very compact, shower on our recent expedition to Antarctica. Plenty of hot water, decent pressure and a proper shower head. But that’s not always the case.

This afternoon, I had a cold shower—not because I chose to, but because there was only a cold-water tap. It didn’t really matter because I’m in a hot and steamy part of Brazil and the cold water was refreshing.

On our travels, we’ve found that our opportunities for a wash have come in many forms—hot, warm, cold, dribbles, jet sprays, hoses, rivers, lakes, crowded, filthy, clean, miniscule, spacious, non-existent.

In four overland journeys, we’ve seen them all, and often not seen any at all. A couple of times in Africa, we went up to 14 days without a shower. But we all smelled the same, so it didn’t matter—at least not to us.

Dogon Country, Mali

Old oil drums and a small mud hut help to create a makeshift shower in Dogon Country, Mali

Poor John remembers arriving at a luxury game park lodge in 1973, after a showerless month on dirt roads in Africa. His group looked scruffy and smelled worse, and the ‘real’ lodge guests moved away as soon as they got a whiff of the overlanders.

He also remembers when the rains came one day on the journey, and everyone in his first overland got naked and showered in the downpour.

My vivid memories aren’t quite that extreme.

I loved the roomy, open-air showers at Green Turtle Lodge on the coast of Ghana. They may have been cold, but they were built of stone, had great water pressure, were surrounded by greenery and absolutely gorgeous.

I panicked in the showers at Gondor in the wintery north of Ethiopia. Me—and my hair—were all soaped up when the water, which was at least warm, slowed to a trickle. Now what? I waited!

I used water sparingly from the overhead drums in Dogon Country in Mali.

I passed on having a shower on the shores of Lake Song-Köl in Kyrgyzstan. Wil, our driver on that trip, hung a camping shower off the back of the truck. When the overnight temperatures are below zero, the water bags that feed such a shower don’t really warm up in the daytime sun.

I missed seeing the snake that appeared in the Georgian river where I had just bathed and washed our laundry.

There have been plenty more shower escapades, and I’m sure there are more to come. But you want to know what annoys me the most? It’s when a shower doesn’t have anywhere for me to hang my clothes.

Have you got any shower stories to share?

Green Turtle Lodge, Ghana

Loved the stone shower cubicles at Green Turtle Lodge, Ghana


Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Dec 23 2012 12:42 am

    The longest I went without a shower was 12 weeks, but we did use rivers/streams and who cared anyway, we all smelt the same

    On the Oz leg of our trip, it was 12 days, no shower, and when we got a shower it was a dollar a minute, I used it, I was worried about getting my clothes wet though, in case they set, that red dust gets everywhere 🙂

    It only takes a bit of hot water, a bit of soap to lift your spirits, you dont miss them until they aint there


    • leggypeggy / Dec 23 2012 1:35 am

      Even cold water can lift your spirits. 🙂
      Pity you didn’t get showers on your way through Oz. Our driver there knew the places that had free showers, so we got a couple.


  2. PerfectlyPerth / Dec 23 2012 1:48 pm

    We were caught in several huge storms in our icebreaker and showers were pretty much banned due to dangerous conditions ! I think the longest I went was 5 days (thank gawd for odour controlled long johns!). Finally the breaker garaged into some pack ice and was still for the first time in days – 89 people rushed for long hot showers !!!


    • leggypeggy / Dec 23 2012 8:32 pm

      Wow, I’m gobsmacked! That’s an incredible reason for not being able to have a shower. I’m so glad you shared it! Thanks.


  3. skippersyy S. / Dec 24 2012 10:33 am

    In Kabul Afghanistan- we went to a bath house outside of town (one story mud enclosure, the only time I had to pay for water & also in the bath houses in Istanbul). They had a small spigot with warm, not hot water. You used a coffee can and then poured water onto yourself. The hard part was that mice/rats were scurrying around the water trough just in front of you.
    In Calcutta, I had to wash at a water pump located on the street (small one) just outside where we were staying for the night… no way to hide from the public passing by… (even the holy cows on the street were laughing!)
    In Ceylon/Sri Lanka- We had a nice enclosed above ground well, so you used the bucket to fetch the water and then wash yourself … hoping know one was around (in the back of the building). The bad part was some European travelers were polluting the well with soapy type of water. Also, for one week I went around the country with only a bar of soap and a Camera (no carry around bag)… and of course TP.
    Basically for about 6 months traveling around Asia we only had cold water to wash up. But when I finally got back to Europe, there were hot showers.

    Sy S.


    • leggypeggy / Dec 24 2012 11:36 am

      Wow Sy! That’s an impressive collection of shower stories. Thanks for sharing. Six months of cold water is a lot. I hope the weather was warm.


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