Friday, June 1, 2012

Hotel Bathrooms When They're Done RIGHT.

We are spending the long weekend of the 21st of May (the celebration of the Glorias Navales of 1879) with four Chilean friends in the small coastal city of Valdivia. 

Valdivia is a small city an hour by air south of Santiago, and only an hour's drive from Lago Ranco where we spent the New Year.  Packing for the trip, I pulled my hiking boots out of the bottom of the hall closet, where they'd sat since our last trip to the south.  When I tied the laces, a cloud of soft grey volcanic ash puffed out into the air and billowed out across the floor of the apartment.
            Valdivia is a water city.  Several large rivers meet right in town:  the Cau Cau, the Cruces, and the softly named Calle Calle, which flows west past main street and joins the Rio Valdivia, which runs out of town and  empties into the Corral Bay, a net of fjords and more river endings and one single narrow mouth onto the ocean. 
            We arrived in Valdivia at night, in a rainstorm, and saw nothing but patches of fogged-out lights and their reflections on pools of big water.  It was extremely cold - the chill of a humid winter, and when we checked into our hotel and were sent up to our rooms, we six thin-blooded northerners decided that our weekend in the south could go hang- we had discovered our bathrooms.
            We were shacking up in the lap of southern luxury - the Dreams Casino of Valdivia.  And the architects had done one thing spectacularly, incandescently right: in a place where fresh-water is neither scarce nor rationed, bathroom designers can pull out all the stops, and the designers for this place had installed showers out of Shangri-la and tropical fever dreams - the shower was its very own little glass room, with a massive rain-head falling ten feet from a marble roof onto  a marble floor.  There was a second showerhead-on-a-hose exactly at chest-and-face height, there was a bank of water jets mounted on the wall, the lighting was soft and recessed, the walls were glass and etched prettily with tall grasses and bamboo fronds, and the acoustics were made for singing -
            Stories shared over breakfast the next morning indicated that what happened in the other rooms was about the same as what happened in ours:  I elbowed Mr Tabubil out of the way and turned up the heat and barricaded myself inside and gave in to the acoustics -
            I stood under the water and sang Zip-a-dee-do-dah (Disney), Going to the Chapel (the Dixie Cups) and Sound the Trumpets (Purcell) and the songs came out in double and triple harmony, and then I hollered out to Mr Tabubil that I was going to stay in there until I grew moss.
            But before I grew moss  I ran out of songs and came out and let him have a turn.
            Because I am nice that way.
            And because the silicone grout around the bottom of the shower walls didn't seal properly and I'd flooded the toilet.

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