Trip Start Jan 23, 2010
38Trip End May 31, 2011
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Using the restroom in South America is practically a science. First, only in the nicest of nicest of places do bathrooms include toilet paper and soap..and there is almost never both. Second, even if you remember the essentials, ie. TP, the odds of finding a bathroom are loooooow. And if you do find one, you most certaintly have to pay to enter, whether in the form of eating at the resturaunt within which it resides, or paying some old gentleman to use the hole with walls in his backyard.
In fact, on the buses you rarely even get the hole. More often then not, the bus just pulls over on the side of the road and everyone stumbles off ( 4 am bathroom break?). The men all line up where ever they please and relieve themselves while the women attempt to retain some sense of modesty and try to huddle out of sight. This, however, is rarely possible and we basically just have to go for it, though, almost without fail someone will offer to "trade" blocking me (from the gazing eyes of a busload of people) if I agree to block them. Yeah teamwork!
If you are lucky enough to find a toilet, it most surely will not have a toilet seat (not that Iīd sit on it even if there was one). When Mary and I were in Puno, Lago Titicaca, we stayed at a hospadaje where the owner, five minutes after checking in, brought two towels, a roll of toilet paper, and a bar of soap to our room. I canīt even begin to explain just how unusual or luxurious this is..Toilet paper-maybe, but towels and soap!?!?!?!? Never. Anways, this inspired me to do a brief but hopeful search to see if perhaps they had stuffed a toilet seat in the pile as well (they had not, oh well!).
My hole in the ground experiences have varied from "okay, yeah this isnīt too bad" to "hmmm, funky" to "Iīm going to go around back". Some have hoses nearby to give a little washout, others no. Some are better thought out than others in terms of space and others even have little foot imprints indicating your most successful positioning.
Now obviously, this lack of bathrooms leads to a lot of relieving oneself in public, especially amongst the children.Yesterday, I saw a little boy walking, thats right, walking down the street with a streem of pee leading the way. When he finished, obviously rellieved, he literally picked up his step and skipped away.