11 October 2010

The whole deal with toilet paper.

I just went to the bathroom.

Sorry if this grosses you out, but I thought I'd write about the experience, because the whole process is a bit different here.

First difference: here, you have to plan when you go to the bathroom. This is because every Starbucks, Walmart, and Sears (or the smaller, less commercialized equivalents here) don't have bathrooms. So if you're going on a walk, or shopping, there is a very good chance that you're just going to have to hold it for awhile.

Second difference: Toilet paper is not included. In some restaurants, where there is a bathroom, they provide you with "papel higiƩnico" in the form of a small dispensor in the hallway leading to the bathroom. At school, the office lady controls the "papel": you have to go and ask her to use some before heading off to the office bathroom (See: Awkward). In the classes, each teacher has a roll and when someone needs to go to the bathroom, they ask her/him for some papel. (my high school kids don't ask me for papel though, which kind of freaks me out...)

Third difference: Toilet seats, as it seems, are optional. For instance, for the first 3 weeks, my house didn't have a toilet seat. We solved that (see my other blog for photos) but a lot of public restrooms are without a toilet seat. Which is really really weird. Because I have become accustomed to bringing toilet paper around with me, but its very unrealistic to bring a toilet seat around with you (I tried fitting it in my backpack. No funciona.) So you just have to hover sometimes.

Fourth difference: The toilet paper cannot go down the toilet. So it goes into a little garbage can (hopefully with a lid) next to you. And smells after a few days. But the city picks up the trash every day except Sunday, so if you stay on top of it it doesn't smell too bad...

Fifth difference: The water pressure here is less...strong then in the states. So sometimes, you flush and nothing happens. I will never take a clean flush for granted again. However, there is some excitement with the whole flushing business because if you go to the southern hemisphere (for instance Quito, an hour and a half bus ride away) the water spins the other way. No joke. Here's proof:

So that's toilets. Something I would really love to change, but its all part of the experience, right?