After enjoying a hike through the hot and humid jungle to explore a cave, there was no denying by the time we got back to the village that we reached our hygenic comfort level. We needed to bathe.
We have avoided this for a few days. We’re not shy and we’ve certainly done our share of outdoor bathing, like plunging into a freezing Colorado river after mountain biking. Still, we are westerners. We are used to indoor plumbing, doors, showers, warm water. No indoor plumbing and a lack of privacy is normal here, so we go with it.
What is the bathing etiquette when staying in a Mayan household?
Many Mayan families just bathe in the local creek or river, but we were lucky that this family had a water spigot that they called “The Pipe” and a semi-private area where they do everything that you need water to do: wash dishes, fill up pots and pans for cooking, do laundry and bathe.
So, instead of bathing in a muddy river, we had the option of bathing in this wash house. It’s a simple structure with wood posts, sheets of metal, a roof, one shelf, several clothes lines and a washing stone for laundry. Do you think that the Mayans know that outdoor showers are all the rage in high end homes in the tropics? They’ve got a good thing here. A bit crude, not as luxurious, but it works.
I had to ask Lucita what the best way to bathe would be. I didn’t want to waste water and I wanted to warn her that I am going to be naked. So I filled up the big plastic bucket with water, plopped Little I in there so she could take a fun bath and then dumped a refreshing, but not too cold, small bowl of water over my body. It was quite liberating! A little soap,shampoo and six bowls of water later – presto…a clean body!
So, when in Rome, or rather, when in a Mayan Village, do the best you can to bathe like a Mayan. (Warning: this is the first, and maybe last, naked photo of us).