25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

No Need for Shampoo!


D
o you think that it is possible to live today without shampoo? What will you do to keep your hair soft if you did not have any kind of shampoo, just plain bars of soap? People in the past used to live without shampoos and they managed to keep their hair soft and bouncy, as beautiful as any model on television. How did that work?

Here is how it works. You know that well water is hard water. It has all the minerals found in the ground and that makes it hard water. If you were to wash your hair with rain water, you get less minerals, but even that is not soft enough. In the absence of shampoos we used to prepare a special water, which left one's hair soft and bouncy. It was prepared with ashes left over after burning firewood for cooking. There was a lot of ashes available for most people cooked over the "fogon" or fire hearth 25 years ago. This specially prepared water was called "legia".

This wood ash was put into a large drum or barrel (approximately of the drum). Then the drum was filled with rainwater. This, as you can imagine, left a very ugly murky water. After an hour or so, the ashes settled and the "legia" became clear and soft, almost lathery. Very carefully you scooped some water from out of the drum and you could use it to wash your hair or do the laundry. After washing your hair with this water, it became very soft and bouncy. The clothing became soft as if you had added some fabric softener. If you wanted to get some fragrance in the "legia" added some lime leaves and left the water in sun for some time.

At home we kept three large drums for "legia". Don't ask how we grumbled every morning at six o'clock when we had to refill the drums. It took about twenty minutes to pull out pails or buckets of water from the well and carry it to the washing area where the drums were usually placed. If mother finished up the water during the day, then we had to refill the drums in the evening after returning from school or from playing around. Our family used up a lot of "legia", and I guess most families did. Two drums were usually used up for the laundry. Then we used it to wash our hair especially after swimming in the sea for salt water really leaves the hair extra hard and dry. We swam practically every day, so "legia" was a commodity in much demand and it was free but a lot of work. I guess most things were free but required more work 25 years ago.


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