How to bathe in a Mayan Village

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.

The wash house where the only water spicket is located

The "pipe" where the only water spigot is located

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).

Bath and shower time for the girls

Bath and shower time for the girls

Where’s the most unusual place you’ve bathed?

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4 Responses to “How to bathe in a Mayan Village”

  1. Mamun Srizon February 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    1. Would you believe, because of similar issue about few years ago, I couldn’t take a bath more than a month!

    2. I am not sure about when we can say something naked. But I can say, it is not nude 🙂

  2. Stacey February 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    My six-year-old said (in awe), “Wooow,really nature” I agree 😉
    Strangest place I’ve bathed? Hmmm, I guess a metal tub about the size of the one Little I is bathing in!

  3. Emily February 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    I bathed in a hot spring in Japan back in 2000, when I was there on a business trip. On the weekends, my co-worker and I hung out with some of the customers, who took us sightseeing in rural parts of Japan, so we could experience some of the traditional Japanese customs. There were two sides to this particular outside bath, one for women, and one for men, separated by a wall. Being a modest westerner, I wanted to wear my bathing suit, but the Japanese women I was with convinced me not to, since everyone else would be nude. I was the only non Japanese woman there that day. They gave me the world’s tiniest towel (about the size of a hand towel in the US) to wrap around myself until I got into the bath. I kept it around me the best I could until the last minute, then slid, extremely nervously into the bath, leaving the towel behind on the deck. Most of the women I was with were 10 years younger than me and much slimmer, as Japanese women tend to be extremely petite, so I felt like a white whale in that bath! But I did survive it. I also got to sleep on a tatami mat that night (not comfortable but very interesting!)

  4. lisa wood February 8, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    That looks like so much fun! Love that you got to use what was available and make the best of it 🙂
    Funny how we take water for granted so much…yet when we don’t have it then we really realise how lucky we are.
    I haven’t had a weird place to have a bath (not yet) but did fly to England when I was 18. I stayed with my Grandad, and I got into trouble for having a shower every day….you are only supposed to have a shower once a week!

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