Monday, June 6, 2011


Amanda carefully stepped into the shower stall with all of her belongings in hand. Using the lone door hook, she managed to keep all of her clothes safe from the wet surfaces, and never let her bare feet touch the tile as she stood on top of her flip-flops to undress. It was nearly lights out in the hostel and the hot water should be back, she hoped. Amanda felt a comforting joy when the cold water turned warm on her outstretched hand. Earlier in the day she had gotten this far but stood there naked, shivering as the cold water remained cold splatering her with what felt like icicles. She couldn´t bring herself to take a cold shower.

The warmth of the shower was heavenly after a chilly day of clouds and mist. Amanda kept battling the on / off push button control of the shower, which seemed to last only 30 seconds before cutting out. Eventually she held the button in with both hands, leaning towards it with her weight, and resting her head against the wall. At this late in the day the hot water supply was endless like a hotel.

On her bunk, Amanda felt clean and soft, still warm from the shower. She sat on her sleeping bag inspecting her feet, which were tacky from her wet flip-flops. She looked closely at her toes and the arch of her foot with a level of study more devoted than she had ever done before. She carefully grabbed each toe, squeezing it, and turning it slightly as though each one needed undivided attention. She picked at her toenails and cuticles. Her feet looked angry, red in some places on the bottom of her soles -what felt like the beggining of blisters. On the top and the edges of her foot where the skin is soft and fragile were red pockmarks of heat rash from the hellish conditions of living inside a wool sock and boot all day. Amanda took out a bottle of hand lotion and applied some to her feet rubbing it in deeply between her toes and the sole of her foot. Never before was she successful at simulating a foot massage on her own, but her hands felt truly foreign as she kneaded each foot. Chills ran through her spine.

The lights were still on and already she could hear men snoring. She quietly drew the long zipper of her sleeping bag down and unpeeled the top half, slipping inside and zipping herself up. She lay in bed, motionless and straight. The hospitalero turned the lights off and Amanda stared at the ceiling, listening to the white noise of the albergue as the snoring and wheezing crescendoed and harmonized together. Beautifully disgusting, Amanda thought.

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