If you find yourself traveling in Brazil you may stay at someones home or maybe an off the beat and path hotel like we often do. You find the accommodations to be suitable and happy to have a place to lay your head. The morning comes and after breakfast is served it is time to get ready for the day with a nice warm shower. You brush your teeth, get undressed and step into the shower. (no bathtubs here - most showers are walk in only) You look around to turn the water on and suddenly you are confused .. only one knob. Your first thought is that the water must run at a nice warm temperature that everyone would enjoy. That has got to be it so you give it a turn and water starts to come out. But ... it's all cold. You turn it some more as maybe there is a happy medium somewhere when the water begins to get warmer. To your dismay although the pressure increases the water is still cold. You look around and notice an odd looking shower head with wires connecting it to the wall. There is a little tube with and end that looks like a mini shower hanging from the shower
head. Not sure what it is for, but after you examine it closer, you come to the conclusion it has nothing to do with water temperature but maybe the pressure (you are correct). You discover a switch on the front of the shower head which is on inverno which must mean inferno or heat (later when you start learning Portuguese you find out it means winter so you were kind of on the right track but then again quite far off). There is nothing left to help you find a solution here so you give up, grab your towel and head out to ask for assistance. Well, the assistance given is that you first turn the water on and once you have a good flow of water turn the knob slightly back - this will kick in the warm water and if you want it warmer, just continue turning it towards the off position. Unfortunately, with a lot of them, if you want a really warm shower you will have to be satisfied with a trickle of water.
You my friend are experiencing the most common shower system in Brazil and it took me a while to understand. Oh heck, I still don't always get warm water when I am at a new place using a new shower. Like when we were in southern Brazil and it was freezing cold. All I wanted was a nice warm shower after a frigged cold night, but I was not able to get the water temperature above cool. But back to the Tuesday Travel Tips. This type of shower head is most common in Brazil and those wires connected to the wall are electrical so watch out. There have been times (especially in those out of the way hotels) when you see black residue from an obvious spark and wires that seem to be exposed. These situations do not seem to bother my Brazilian friends but there have been times when I start wondering if I will die in a hotel shower. However, the lure of some refreshing water encourages you to turn the knob and step in. Obviously others have showered here safely before you. Fortunately the shower in our apartment was installed by a trustworthy electrician and I don't have to worry about this on a daily basis. I don't always get water as warm as I would like but our shower has turned from enemy to friend once again.