Today I’m starting a series of posts focused on travel advise. Africa 360° was my first travelling experience and there were a million things I wish I’d known before so I could be better prepared. I’m writing all these lessons learnt down so I should remember them for my next adventure. And who knows maybe I’ll help a traveler-to-be or two to be better prepared…
Sometimes heaven smells like hell
Traveling for more than 10 months I have seen lots of different showers, basins and bath tubs. The most memorable bath I took would have been quite at the beginning in Western Sahara (Morocco). It was by the side of the road – the Atlantic to the right down a 20m cliff, the Sahara to the left. We had been bush camping for a few days already. It was hot. There was also barely any water at the rest stops we hit during the day. Baby wipes was all I had had to clean myself. There was no thinking of washing my hair.
Since we were also short on drinking water we stopped when we saw a tab on a wall. The gentleman tending to the water was very friendly. I think sharing water in the desert is part of Tuareg culture.
The man allowed us to fill our jerry cans from a hose and pointed to a square concrete pool if we wanted to wash ourselves. Usually the camels would drink from it but because there was an underground water source the water in the trough was renewed all the time. When we came close a smell of rotten eggs rose. The underground source was rich in sulfur. Nevertheless I jumped in – fully dressed. And a bath might have never felt as good as it did that day in the desert.
How many showers should you take a day? Well, when you’re at home that’s an easy enough question: take a shower at least once daily, maybe twice or thrice in the hot summer heat. On the road you’ll have to get over that sentiment. Bush camping you will not have a toilet and most likely no running water.
Baby wipes will get you part of the way. But while it isn’t a good idea to camp by a river (if you do expect an audience and mosquitos to haunt you…) nothing is better than stopping at a river during the day for a bath and some laundry.*
And then there are the hostels, hotels and guest houses with sanitary facilities that don’t look sanitary at all. Strangely enough I even ended up skipping showers because they were cold – on a 30°C day. I’d rather put on a new shirt or even better wash a shirt and put it on wet before going out.
For a guy it might be sort of sexy to be just a little sweaty. As a woman I would always shave my armpits to avoid smelliness. Needless to say that I always had a deodorant which you can buy pretty much anywhere. And make sure to get a shower or a bath every couple of days regardless of the quality of the facilities.
*If you’re scared of schistosomiasis rest assured that if you have enough money for this trip you’ll have enough money to get treatment. Dosed according to body weight it’s available at most pharmacies in affected areas. And just consider this: the water in proper showers often comes from the same rivers you might be scared of. So you might want get preventive treatment regardless.