Outdoor showers have to be one of the most brilliantly executed marketing ploys of island living. I have no idea how the ruse transpired, but the evil genius behind it has managed to transform the general public’s perception of a bare bones camping concept – cleaning yourself in the great outdoors – into a sought after luxury feature of high-end houses in tropical settings.
I, too, will admit to being fooled by its smoke and mirrors allure in my early island days. I think so many of us find ourselves on a rock, marveling at almost everything that is worlds away from our past lives by comparison. So the mere idea of being able to shower outside all year round – because the temperature is *magically* never too cold – is enchanting, to say the least.
But after living on a rock for so many years now, having had most of my paradise fantasies crushed, I was justifiably wary when I noticed that the house we were considering renting had an outdoor shower only – no indoor option available as a back-up. All I could think when I peered out from the safety of the screened in portion of the bathroom was: mosquitoes. But we were desperately in need of a new place, and the house had an overflow of redeeming qualities, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and roll with it.
Two and a half months in and I’m relieved to report that, for the most part, this whole outdoor shower thing is not as bad as I had feared. There are parts of it that are just as I had anticipated, but it has also been chock full of unexpected surprises. The one definitive I can give (take note all you future island home builders) is that as beautifully constructed as my outdoor shower may be, there is nothing glamorous about it. Perhaps if I was merely here on vacation (and had a housekeeper faithfully wiping lizard poo off my shower walls on a daily basis) I’d revel in the novelty of it for a week or two, but The Everyday, famous for its inescapable slaughter of the nouveau, leaves you with no choice but to exist in the much less sparkly Land of Reality.
Here are my current pros and cons of the Outdoor Shower Lifestyle:
Gazing skyward and seeing the stars (if you’re showering in the dark) or the puffy clouds and trees (if you’re showering in the daylight), is a bajillion times better than staring up at a boring ass white ceiling. Full moon showers are pure magic.
Depending on the time of day and the length of your shower, you may be able to get a tan, sans tan lines. Consider it your personal nude tanning booth. Sunglasses may be required (though good luck keeping soap splatters off the lenses, friend).
Frogs and lizards on the hunt are fantastic sources of entertainment. All too often, you may catch yourself dwindling away your allotted shower time, rapt in their patient stalking, cheering like a fanatical sport’s fan when they finally manage to snatch a roach.
Being forced to go immediately outdoors first thing in the morning is actually really refreshing and good for the soul.
Even though you are in the shower and already wet, rain is not as innocuous as you might think. Yes, Caribbean rain is warmer than the kind that falls in other regions, but it’s still colder than the temperature of a comfortable shower. And if it happens to be one of those times when you’re not planning on washing your hair, you’re forced to abandon ship mid shower, huddling indoors with one leg shaved and one still covered in cream, and wait out the downpour.
You will go through a shocking amount of soap. The outdoor elements manage to disintegrate your bar faster than you can make suds, so prepare to buy in bulk.
Unidentifiable noises are far creepier when nude.
If your outdoor shower doesn’t have a door or curtain, you can expect to be intruded on at the most inopportune of moments. It never fails that the random times my boyfriend drops by to ask me a question (something insignificant when you have the privacy shield of a curtain), he finds me in awkward positions that are anything but flattering: one arm flung above my head, neck twisted, face focused, shaving my armpit, looking like a monkey. And while it has yet to happen (probably because I do my best to schedule my shower time accordingly), I imagine it’s only a matter of time before I get walked in on by some random maintenance man or friend popping in for an unannounced visit.
Island water is precious (read: expensive as shit) and island girls take navy showers. When you’re standing around wet and naked, even in the daylight, any passing breeze feels like a blast of arctic chill. Cue: goosebumps (have fun shaving!).
The things you notice when showering in daylight will make you cringe thinking of all of the other showers you take in the dark. While you may have a light in your shower for the non daylight hours, it’s still the outdoors, and you can’t see everything. Things like the bird poop seeped into your scrubby pouf (you know, the one you rub all over yourself to get “clean”) or the dead termites between your comb’s teeth will haunt you and make you a bit of a paranoid early morning showerer.
The Bugs. Yeah. You knew this one was coming. Indoor island living is pest-ridden as it is, but heading outside, on the bugs’ turf, is a whole other ball game. Things you can expect to land on your naked body include: flying cockroaches, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, spiders (SPIDERS), grasshoppers/crickets (both green and brown varieties), lizards, frogs, scorpions, and an array of creepy crawlies you do not know the names for. Take it from me – a panicked lizard running up your leg is much less cute and much more alarming when you’re not wearing shorts.
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Where do you stand on the indoor vs outdoor shower situation? If you had the choice, where would you be sudsing up?