Under the sink rests the plastic bucket with which the entire family bathes. It’s been more than twenty years since the pipes collapsed and to use the bathroom they have to carry water from a tank in the patio. When winter comes they prepare a lukewarm bath thanks to an electrical heater made from two cans of condensed milk. None of the children in the house knows the sensation of a jet of water falling on their shoulders. Since the water comes only once a week, no one can waste it in a shower.
To the rhythm of a pitcher rising and falling, the majority of people I know groom themselves. The decline of the hydraulic networks and the excessive prices of plumbing parts contribute to the calamitous state of the toilets. The act of washing the body, which should be an intimate and pleasant time, turns into a sequence of inconveniences for the better part of my compatriots. To the poor state of the infrastructure we must add that to buy shampoo and soap we need a different currency than that in which they pay our wages.
Juan Carlos and his wife know well dry spells and nights monitoring the pipes. At their house the precious liquid comes every seven days and the only water pressure comes from a pipe stuck in the ground. For this couple, the bucket and pitcher are essential tools without which they couldn’t cook, wash or clean the house. So many years without being able to open the tap and rinse their hands has forced them to develop a method that they explained to us today through these images. It’s a brief demonstration—in the words of my thin friend—“that will make them laugh, but it’s pathetic and tragic what’s happening in this country.”