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That daily shower scramble - a different viewpoint

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
A good Spanish born and bred friend told me that one is meant to suffer walking a Camino.
And my response to that is that there is already plenty of suffering in the world. No need to intentionally add more!

Cold showers remind me of the 6 weeks that I spent in Guatemala taking Spanish lessons and staying with local families. Most homes didn't have water heaters, and hot water for the shower came from an electric shower head, aka suicide shower for obvious reasons, though properly installed they didn't pose a huge risk. Properly installed being the important factor! The greater the volume of water going through the shower head the cooler the shower would be, it was a delicate balance between enough water to clean yourself and temperature. One of my teachers told me that they didn't heat any water in her home and that she preferred cold showers. 🥶
 
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Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
All this talk of cold showers is making me smile. A cold shower is relative; it depends where one is in the world. Where I live now, a cold shower is frigid; I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Where I lived when I was growing up in the tropics, the water pipes were above ground and the sun could heat the water in the pipes to a temperature where ‘cold’ water coming out of the shower head was hotter than was comfortable in the tropical heat.

The coldest water I encountered in a shower on the camino was still pretty tepid; not much to complain about, really. 😊
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Any time I have had to take (endure) a cold shower, I have always opted for a GI shower....I become Speedy Gonzalez! 😀
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
My only cold shower was in San Anton, and I loved the place so much that the chill of the water was insignificant.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Hi - that refugio shower scramble; problems of privacy, queues, will there be enough hot water, what to do with your bags, etc ... the thing is, you don't have to do it. A daily bath or shower - sometimes twice daily - is a very modern habit, promoted by producers of bathroom products and believing that false hype can verge on neurosis.

Our skin is our largest organ and is designed to exude oils and help the nurture of beneficial bacteria to protect us from external invasions - it is there to keep us healthy.
Every time we shower, if we use chemical products, we strip all of that away, leaving the body defenceless, and this is not a good thing to do at all.

We have five places where our bodies produce secretions that will smell after a few days. Armpits, feet, groin. If we gently soapy wash those parts (with a gentle soap) using a flannel then we will always smell sweet, the rest of the body can be rubbed down with clear water.

And this makes refugios really simple. If you carry a light collapsible bucket you can take it with you into the WC cubicle and clean yourself easily and simply, in total privacy, whenever you want. You can even do it behind a bush by a stream!

The Romans knew the benefits of healthy skin. Their method was to rub their skin all over with olive oil, use a strigil to scrape it off, and then plunge into a hot bath, then a cooler one. Soap didn't even exist.

Both men and women with long hair say they have problems if they stop washing their hair, and this is true as they constantly wash it with chemicals, stripping out all the oils and use a conditioner to try and replace them, so if they stop their hair goes frizzy - but, for thousands and thousands of years women didn't regularly wash their hair, instead they regularly brushed it. Think of all those female aristocrats sitting down having their hair brushed by a servant in films. The scalp produces oils specific to healthy hair and by regular long brushing this is moved to all of the hair, giving a beautiful healthy glow. (Gets rid of the split ends problem too).

I never take a bath and only shower about once every few months, without chemicals, but I do soapy wash smell producing areas and clear wash my skin daily. I have really healthy supple smooth skin and, no, I don't smell!

This constant showering and hair washing - it is habit, a consumer habit produced by adverts from bathroom product companies and, honestly, not only is it not necessary it is actually harmful to you as it strips away your body's defences. Their is a difference between cleanliness and sterility. "In cleanliness there is bacterial activity, there is life. Without bacteria there would be no life."

So - a different viewpoint .. but think about it! Carry a lightweight folding bucket and the whole shower saga in a refugio is over, gone, forever - and you will be much healthier too - win-win, don't you think?
My father used to say 'only dirty people wash'. He would then go on to quote one of Queen Elizabeth the First's courtiers who reported, in tones of some wonder that 'her majesty baths once a month, whether she needs it or no'. My mother, however, was more concerned with the proprieties and insisted that we wash 'up, down and round the corners' every day. You do not need to shower every day. But it helps if you wear merino.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Observation:
  • Hundreds of years ago, when bathing was very infrequent, people had 6, 8, or 10 children (that survived!).
  • Nowadays, when bathing is daily, people have 1 or 2 children.
Conclusion:
  • ?
Co-occurrence is no proof of causality. It may be that with 6, 8, or 10 children, people didn't have time for baths - and wouldn't have been able to get in the bathroom anyway - I found it hard enough with just two offspring.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My mother, however, was more concerned with the proprieties and insisted that we wash 'up, down and round the corners' every day.
Love your mother's words!
Growing up my mom always said "Make sure you wash behind your ears" but we only bathed once a week so must have been dirtier than you. We were 5 children and even used the same bathwater...ahhh, the good old days.😝
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
When I was involved with a student exchange program we recognised that cultural norms can be very different, and there are many unwritten rules. We would have to explain some of the Australian unwritten rules to incoming students. One of those was that in Australia people shower daily. I recall the horror from a Thai student, who thought it revolting that we only showered once a day. She was used to showering two, three or four times every day.

Which leads me to the view that "it depends on the weather". I feel very uncomfortable not to shower if I have been sweating. Which is usually the case when I walk 20 kilometres. Even in the cold - and more so if it is raining and I am encased in plastic.

If you sweat, please wash. Not many of us have the courage to tell someone they smell bad.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
One of those was that in Australia people shower daily. I recall the horror from a Thai student, who thought it revolting that we only showered once a day. She was used to showering two, three or four times every day
Here (right next door to Thailand) we share the Thai custom. To cool down if nothing else.

Yes...cultural norms definitely differ!
I grew up in Hawai'i. When a friend was about to leave home to go to university, his mom told him not to be shocked that people on the mainland didn't bathe as much as we did (every day, sometimes twice a day). I thought she was just poking fun at Texans, and only realized later that she wasn't when it was my turn to go to university. When people went to bed without bathing first, or only showered every other day, I was shocked. 🤪 👃 😣

On the camino? It really stinks when people do that. Literally.
 

mikebet

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
Anyone who has lived in a tropical country, particularly in SEAsia, understands the powerful negative stigma attached to not bathing or showering frequently enough. When I taught ESL in Bangkok many years ago I once asked my students -- just for fun -- how often they thought farangs bathed. "Once a week?" someone ventured. "Once a month?" suggested another. "Oh, but not YOU, teacher!" LOL
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My parents improved their standard of living by the time I was about ten years old. We had a bigger house with a shower, so I began bathing/showering every day.
Many years ago I was part of a traveling ministry where everyone lived in campers, and many of them had no AC unit. It was sweltering hot one summer in Texas and I recall one couple telling us they had to take showers and immediately flop into bed dripping wet just to be able to sleep.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
Without a doubt I advise all pilgrims who have made the decision to stay in albergues to bathe everyday. It is just plain the polite and considerate thing to do when communal living. Even the busiest, most crowded albergue on the Camino has empty showers and no queue's just a couple of hours after the initial rush (1300-1600). If one can hold out that long one has the facilities to one's self. Of course most, myself included, shower during the rush so as to get laundry on the line. I do not mind the cold water in a shower, especially on warm summertime Caminos and I do the "ship shower" routine anyway. Rinse, turn off water, soap up...rinse. Takes less than ten minutes maximum (rude albergue water hogs take note).
 

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