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On regaining the room we set to work and almost instantly experienced a loss in faith. True, there was a switch near the tap for the shower, but out of this came two bare wires which I’d assumed were something to do with earthing the shower - I’d seen something similar attached to the back of our bath. My reasoning was, sadly, wide of the mark. The two bare wires carried an electrical current into a small, plastic box that was attached to the shower pipe. Inside the small, plastic box there was a heating element, essentially a smaller version of those bizarre things you get to heat drinks if you happen to be trapped inside a broom cupboard or similar, you know the ones; you make the coffee cold and plug this oversized inside of a light bulb into the mains and bung it into the cup waiting for the coffee to heat. The logic we faced here was the same – the element would grow hotter to whatever degree you decided by altering the amount of electricity provided. The element having become heated would, in turn, heat the water passing over it, and there was your hot shower. Hmmm. It sounded about as advisable as sticking your tongue into a plug socket to check that there was electrical current located within, but, casting aside European namby-pamby conceptions of electrical safety and always up for a bit of a laugh, I took the challenge.

Taking the challenge turned out to be a mistake. To begin with, if I were to complete the challenge, I first had to imitate the S-bend of the papier-mâché toilet pipe with my spine in order to be able to get under the pipe itself. This was uncomfortable, although, younger and more flexible than I am now, I somehow managed to achieve the position required. With the position question answered, I now came to the electrical water problem. Following the instructions that the receptionist had provided, initially, all I got in my quest for a hot shower was a mildly tingling scalp. By adjusting the sliding switch on the “heat control box thing”,however, I managed however to upgrade from the mildly tingling scalp. To my dismay, the sliding switch on the side of the box seemed to have little to do with controlling the temperature of the water. Adversely, moving the switch enabled you to modify the intensity of electric shock received by whoever was under the shower at the time. Starting with the tingling scalp, I moved through the different levels until I was at the maximum shock, sorry, “heat” setting. Here I managed to amplify the already quite considerable effects of the combination of electricity and water by attempting to wash my hair. Raising my hands above my head, whilst determined to keep my backbone in a reef knot, still trying to breathe without causing permanent crushing injuries to my internal organs and of course, trying to keep the shampoo out of my eyes, I cut a fine figure, no doubt. My attractiveness was however not germane to the issue as in this position I succeeded in getting too close to the bare wires above my head. I don’t think I touched them, but then I wouldn’t know. I was brought round a few minutes later by Évi who, having received no response to her questions had decided to see why I wasn’t replying. She thought it might be a good idea to turn off the electrical shower, under which I was attempting to breakdance, and I came out from my electro-therapy none the worse for wear other than the shampoo in my eyes. Évi had more luck with the shower than I did being less adverse to cold water than I am and being about the same height as your average Bolivian, for whom the shower was, in all likelihood, designed. I struggled bravely on, but after three separate incidents (one in Peru – they seemed to have the same design of shower but I had to be sure) which all ended with me doing the never-ending breakdance routine without disco lights, covered in soap on the bathroom floor, I kicked my determination out of the way and consented to smell as badly as a traveller in South America ever had.


The following comments are for "Shower extract"
by Tufty

Not what I expected
From the title, I did not have a clue about the travelogue nature of this tale. I was vaguely expecting something icky. I found the way you percieved things and told the tale to be highly amusing. I got a clear visual that was a lot more humorous than living this obviously true story must have been. Thanks for this post.

( Posted by: poeteye [Member] On: January 26, 2008 )

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