The Single Knob for automatic hot water. Uh-huh. Really.

29-10-2013 18:28

(Read what happened before, in¨One hour, downhill¨ and other Ecuadorian untruths)

It doesn´t happen much that I have to think twice about where I am, if I woke up too late or too early and who´s lying next to me, but this is one of these mornings. Soon though pieces of the solution start to enter my awakening mind. Guinea pig soup. The lost gallery. Mountains, always uphill. A string out of the door to open it. Aaah, yes, we´re doing the Quilotoa loop and this village with no water between four in the afternoon and five in the morning is called Zumbahua, known for its Saturday market. It´s Saturday, and next to me lies Graham still asleep: he´s the travel companion that was elected (? :P) to become my bed companion in only one day. But I lie rolled up in my sleeping bag, so that sounds much more exciting than it is. :D

Am I too early or too late? I distinguish the numbers 5:05 on my phone, two hours left until we go to the market. But after yesterday I´m too curious to resist: ¨At five tomorrow morning there´ll be water again. Hot water.¨ Would it be…? I get out of bed and in the dusk I sneak to the bathroom. I turn the single knob and look up expectantly. Nada. Not even the protesting sputter that I know from the Spanish closed water pipes.  Oh well, what would you expect from a five dollar hostel in Zumbahua, Ecuador. I´ll just wash my face with the water in my bottle that I´ve got left from yesterday, and that’s it, I think, and I start groping for my clothes.


I´m almost at the point of getting dressed, when… PAF! BANG! Kloink! Kllrrrk…. Prtttk… tttk… followed by a kind of Spanish sputter with apparently the force of a tornado. After that first thwack I reached the door in two jumps and now I´m standing with the doorknob in my hand, ready to flee into the room in the probable case that something will explode shortly. But the sputtering decreases slowly and I decide to take the chance: with little steps I slowly approach The Knob to see if all that noise has been of any use for the water supply. Yes, it has. Even though it´s passed five a while ago, we´ve got water. As promised. Hot water? Eerm, no.

But at home in Quito I´ve got used to a more-than-occasional cold morning shower, including washing my hair under the cold stream, so no problem: at least we´ve got water to catalyze our waking up process, and that´s what it´s all about.

Or… wait! Yes, there it turns from ice cold into cold, lukewarm to warm, and… Autsj! Hot! Auuw, aauuw, iiiee! Very nice, I just finished lathering my hair… Up to three times I try to stand under the little stream of boiling water (tea, anyone?), but I really can´t manage it for more than two seconds. I´ll never make it to be ready at seven this way! Hmmm, so now what: there´s no sink, the only water I´ve got left is half of half the bottle I started with. Hmmm… that´s an idea…

While the bathroom turns into an Ecuadorian steam room in the next few seconds, my left and right hand take two-second turns on holding the bottle as close to the shower as possible, in an attempt to fill it as efficiently as can be. Autsj, autsj, fingers, pain! There are moments you´d like to share in your stories, when at the same time you´re glad that no one´s watching. This was one of those moments. When the bottle is practically full, I pour half of it over my head to wash out the shampoo, and then I start again. Until the water in the bottle gets too hot to use too: I turn The Knob resolutely to the left. Basta. No more hot water for me today. I assure that most of the shampoo is gone and I start looking for my towel.

The owner was right: ¨Yes, yes, tomorrow morning there´ll be water again. Hot water.¨ Hot water indeed. Maybe having two knobs with only cold water is not as bad as it seems. That´s what I´ll surely try to remember the next time I´m standing under an ice cold stream at six in the morning. Lets see if it helps. :P

(Curious to know how this story continues? See: ¨Breathtaking Quilotoa: staggering horses on the edge of a vulcano.¨)