Temas Especiales

16 de Jan de 2021


Turning the push button into a bath

When most foreigners move overseas they miss their families, sometimes their native food, others miss the change of seasons.. All of thi...

When most foreigners move overseas they miss their families, sometimes their native food, others miss the change of seasons.. All of this is of little importance to me. What I miss most is the ‘BATH’!

Yes, that is right. In ancient times these were venues where everybody met and socialized. They were a major part of every day lives for the Roman people. I am fortunate that one of the best examples of this is in my native country England in Bath, Somerset.

There are also two good examples of the same in Pompeii Italy. I have been fortunate enough to see both examples. But, how did they work? Taking a bath was not a simple chore. There was not one bath to use in a large complex such as the one at Bath. A visitor could use a cold bath (the frigidarium), a warm bath (the tepidarium) and a hot bath (the caldarium).

A visitor would spend some of his time in each one before leaving. A large complex would also contain an exercise area (the palaestra), a swimming pool and a gymnasium. One of the public baths at Pompeii contains two tepidariums and caldariums along with a plunge pool and a large exercise area.

The building of a bath complex required excellent engineering skills. Baths needed a way of heating water. This was done by using a furnace and the hypocaust system carried the heat around the complex.

Water had to be constantly supplied. In Rome this was done using 640 kilometers of aqueducts - a superb engineering feat. The baths themselves could be huge.

A complex built by the emperor Diocletian was the size of a football pitch! Those who built them wanted to make a statement - so that many baths contained mosaics and massive marble columns. The larger baths contained statues of the gods and professionals were on hand to help take the strain out of having a bath. Masseurs would cater to visitors and then rub scented olive oil into their skin.

It was very cheap to use a Roman bath. A visitor, after paying his entrance fee, would strip naked and hand his clothes to an attendant. He could then do some exercising to work up a sweat before moving into the tepidarium which would prepare him for the caldarium which was more or less like a modern sauna. The idea, as with a sauna, was for the sweat to get rid of the body's dirt. After this a slave would rub olive oil into the visitor's skin and then scrape it off with a strigil. The more luxurious establishments would have professional masseurs to do this. After this, the visitor would return to the tepidarium and then to frigidarium to cool down. Finally, he could use the main pool for a swim or to generally socialize. Bathing was very important to the Ancient Romans as it served many functions.

Unfortunately these luxurious baths are not available to the general public anymore. In Panama everybody prefers to shower daily anyway, and the majority of residences do not even own a tub. I must admit maybe the appeal of a bath is not so important when it is thirty-two degrees outside. However, I really miss what is a basic custom in my country.

Unfortunately, even there the humble bath has changed significantly. This is partly due to space limitations in houses but also due to the expense of making the product. We now have cheap, small plastic baths where one cannot even relax in without your knees stuck up in the air. I was in a hotel in Switzerland where you sit on a step in what was meant to be a bath, just bizarre.

However, my wife and I have come up with a solution to this problem. Yes, the good old ‘Push Button’. We go for those magnificent Jacuzzis. I go prepared with my bubble bath and my boats, not to mention Thunderbird 4, and have a great time. You should try it sometime!