Showers: the curse of the f-letter

June 25, 2007 | By More

Veteran readers of this blog will remember a text I wrote some months ago on the Brazilian showers. We came back from our recent trip to Arraial with a new and fascinating adventure to share with you. I will be naming no names, especially because we made the unforgiveable mistake of not taking photographs of what we saw. I’ve had to use CGI to recreate the scene of the crime below.

I promise that, in spite of the comic undertones of the story, nothing here is invented.

We went through three different rooms in one of the pousadas where we stayed (notice the giveaway, in a few day’s time the shrewdest among you will be able to identify the place). The reasons for the change of room were unrelated to what it is being described here. All the rooms have an ample shower with hot water coming from a single boiler that feeds all the premises. After opening the tap [faucet], the hot water took anything between 5 to 10 minutes to reach the room. All that time, cold water was being wasted down the drain. What made the situation much worse was the peculiar labelling of the taps. The cold water tap was identified with the notorious F letter (cold is frio in Portuguese, so that’s what you would expect, no obscene language round the corner). So far, so good. But the hot water tap was also identified with the very same F letter. Did they not look nice together, the two F’s! Such an outstanding example of lack of imagination led to scenes of desperation.

1. I open the right-hand side F tap (which we would eventually discover it was the hot water tap). I wait for 5 minutes and as there is no sign whatsoever of the hot water I assume I’ve opened the wrong tap. The hot water tap must be the one on the left.

2. I open the left-hand side tap (cold water one). 5 minutes, and no hot water. 10 minutes, and no hot water. If I had waited for 2 hours I would have never had hot water coming out from that tap.

That day we took cold showers. We moved to a new room. First thing we checked, the shower. And there they were, the bastards. The two F’s sitting there about to take the piss out of us. Little did they knew we had mastered the magic secret of the double F.

1. I open the right-hand side tap (as we had discovered on our first room, it is the hot water tap). Nothing, 10 minutes and no hot water. I don’t believe it! (for you Brits out there, picture Victor Meldrew saying this).

2. I open the left-hand side tap (which, as we had discovered on the previous room, it is the cold water tap). 5 minutes and no hot water. No surprises here, it’s what we expected.

As I wasn’t having another cold shower, I got dressed and went down to reception to find out what was going on. After all, with the taps opened for so long, we might as well have emptied the reservoir that supplies Arraial. The owner of the pousada appeared and said there was no problem whatsoever, we just had to open the hot water tap and let the water flow. We told him that was impossible, we had unsuccesfully tried to do that. And then the had no alternative but to share with us a juicy secret that heralded our second change of room (in actual fact, the change was motivated for a more serious reason). The builder who installed the water pipes liked to have a good time, and on this particular room he single-handedly decided to change the order of the hot and cold water pipes. So, on room 2, the F tap on the left was the hot-water tap, unlike room 1 where the F tap on the left was the cold-water one. Likewise, now the F tap on the right was the cold-water tap, unlike room 1 where the F tap on the right was the hot-water one. Are you still there?

On the third room we skipped the empty -an -entire -reservoir -to -find -out -which -is -the -hot -water -tap stage and asked directly. Does room 3 belong to the category “the builder was in a funny mood that day” or does it follow the pattern of the rest of the pousada?

After such a jumble of Fs, room changes and cold showers I reached the inevitable conclusion: we were being the victims of a cruel vengeance orchestrated by “the system”, the Upper Council of the showering world, waiting for the moment to take revenge on me for the publication of the entry I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Get thee behind me, cursed shower!

P.S.: I don’t know how much a tiny letter Q (for quente, hot in Portuguese) costs. But I am positive it costs far less than the amount of water wasted while trying to find out which tap is the hot-water one. Somehow I don’t think the pousada owner had come to the same conclusion.

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Category: Typical Brazilian

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