March 23, 2007

Amazon River Boat Showers
Rio Amazonas, Brazil

Getting up close and personal with the Amazon River.

I like to be clean. I'm fairly active during the day, and shower twice daily if I have the opportunity and the proper water temperature. I need to shampoo my hair this often as well, as I've noticed that by the time I'm a good 12 hours into the day, my hair starts to resemble something like an Italian mobster who likes to dip his comb in olive oil.

The water that runs through every pipe on these types of boats comes from… you guessed it, the river. The toilets, sinks, and showers flush or run creamy-brown with the water of the Amazon River (which has a color to it that looks like a cup of coffee with an excessive amount of milk mixed in).

I knew this beforehand, as stories of gringos who decided not to bathe for the 5+ days of boat travel are told from time to time. I can only shake my head at these people, who desperately need to toss their backpacks and catch the next flight home.

Seriously, it's just a river folks. Step outside your comfort zone and feel the reality of the world wash over you (literately).

The showers aboard this boat are basic—simply plastic pipes attached to the low ceiling in the center of the individual bathroom stalls—no showerhead needed. The Amazon River water is warmer than I expected, making it all the more enjoyable to shower with (to me—I hate cold showers).

I've showered once or twice a day with it since I got on board, and don't smell or feel anything unusual on my skin after. I simply avoid bathing when we're near a port town, as the water there is more likely to be polluted with human and mechanical waste—common sense, that I've noticed many Brazilians generally adhere to as well.

Other Hygienic Odds 'n Ends

This boat is great because I'm observing Brazilians doing Brazilian things, unfiltered. It's fascinating how many of them will wash their hands (with soap!) after they eat, but generally not before a meal (using fingers at meal time is common).

I'm also really surprised with the large percentage of the population on this boat that brushes their teeth after each and every meal. But I'm not really sure if it's representative of Brazil as a whole, as this sampling is a bit skewed (meaning that these are all people who can afford a boat ticket). Interestingly, no qualms seem to be had with using the Amazon River water to wet their tooth brushes (I personally opt for the clear water on this one).

Showers for all seem to be daily, and the dining area takes marks as the second place in Brazil I've been told that I need to have a shirt on to be there (the first instance occurring at the book-less "library" in Pipa).

I'm curious to see how similar (or not) the people on my next boat will be.

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