Chatting in the wash house


There is a town near here called Caldes de Montbui.

I went there when my sister and my nephew were visiting, to bathe in the hot mineral baths in one of the spas. The one we chose was a beautiful building with modernist interiors called Broquetas. The water comes from the ground at more than 70 degrees and has to be cooled before you can comfortably get in. There are various places in the town where the water spurts out of fountains and I’ve heard that some houses have their own supply.Last weekend we went back again, this time to see our friend Paula Kramer doing a dance performance as part of a project called Miau I first met my partner on one of Paula’s workshops in the Pyranees – her speciality is dancing creatively in nature and in so many ways it was a healing and life changing weekend. It always feels special to see her and the other friends that I met on that workshop.
Some of these photos are a bit misty and dark but if you tilt the screen you can get the picture and I like the way they are rather mysterious and watery.This performance took place in a Safareig – a communal wash house that uses the natural hot water and has a large central stone tub where women used to come to wash their laundry and talk. There is a Catalan phrase ‘fer safareig‘ which means to gossip – a word that in English has some negative associations but which I think also describes a vital and caring way of passing on news about your friends aquaintances and family. Womens communications – so many words that are pejorative – nagging, bitching, gossiping….
This town now also has a large community of people from Mali and some of these women have begun to use the Safareig as a meeting place and for washing clothes again. There are three Safareigs in Caldes and one of them seemed derelict and sad although as part of the project it was being used as a grafitti house where you could write your desires on the walls.
At the end of the performances people were invited to have a hot bath in the tub – I dangled in my feet and legs but wasn’t tempted to plunge in when it started to fill up with hot steamy bodiesBut it was an incredible scene.

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