My husband is a bit of a toilet fanatic. I don’t know a nicer (or more normal) way to put it; he loves toilets. And every time we travel (Japan, USA, Taiwan, Peru) one of the first things he does is examines the differences between the bathrooms.
[For more, check out: The 7 Weirdest Things about Taiwanese Toilets]
His passion has begun to rub off on me, so during our honeymoon in Peru, we had many a lively discussions about the toilets in Peru. These are the top 12 neat things we discovered about Peruvian toilets:
1. Most of the time, there is no toilet seat or seat cover – you have to sit on the cold, sketchy ceramic toilet bowl.
This was (not surprisingly) my least favorite part about Peruvian toilets. From day one, I wasn’t thrilled about sitting on the cold, ceramic toilet bowl. I thought it was a mistake the first time, but I gradually came to realize about half of the toilets did not have a seat cover.
2. When the toilet is flushed, it rarely flushes ALL the water. Instead, you are left with a half pee, half water solution.
It was impressive way to conserve water, that oddly enough didn’t freak me out too much. Some of the toilets had buttons, others had levers, and one had a knob so you could choose how much water the flush should use. As long as it was just “number 1,” a full flush was not needed.
I mean, you know, it would be NICE if every time I walked into the bathroom I didn’t come face-to-face with someone else’s urine, but I understand the need for water conservation. I think old American toilets are highly wasteful with their 5 – 7 gallon flush. Even their current 1.5 – 3 gallon flushes seem a bit wasteful. Peruvian toilets had, like, a .3 – 1 gallon flush.
And you didn’t have to worry about half dissolved toilet paper floating in the water because…
3. Toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet – instead it goes in a trash can beside the toilet.
Scroll back up and look at those three toilet pictures. Notice something interesting?
Every single toilet has a bucket next to it. Those buckets are supposed to be for toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and everything else. Of course Ryosuke and I didn’t figure this out until our second day in Peru, when we clogged our hostel toilet because we flushed too much paper down the toilet.
It was nasty.
Our poor hostel host came in with a plunger, fixed it, and told us in a mix of Spanish and English that the toilet paper was not supposed to go inside the toilet.
Oops. A couple of days later I found this sign at a Starbucks in Cusco and figured it out.
4. It is really easy to clog the toilet if you accidentally flush toilet paper down the toilet.
We clogged two toilets: one at a hostel in Lima and one in the hospital. For whatever reason we assumed the hospital would have stronger water pressure – especially since I was recovering from surgery and experience bowel problems (on my honeymoon too, what a treat).
We are probably horrible people.
And we clog toilets in developing countries.
5. Despite the fact that it is really easy to clog the toilets with paper, only the most high-end establishments have signs telling you to NOT flush toilet paper in the toilet.
You would think there would be more signs telling foreigners to NOT flush toilet paper down the toilet.
We were in Peru for three weeks and saw, well, three signs: one at the Lima airport, one at a Starbucks in Cusco, and one in a nice restaurant in Pisac.
The only common factor was each place was a highly tourist-y area.
6. About half the bathrooms do not have toilet paper inside the stall (you have to bring your own). Occasionally, toilet paper dispensers are outside the stalls, near the bathroom sinks.
One of the first things I learned travelling in developing is that you should always check for toilet paper before you sit down. Sometimes there is paper inside the stall; sometimes it is in a roll outside the stalls near the sink, sometimes you have to pay an attendant a couple of coins for a couple squares of paper; sometimes you have to bring your own.
Basically, cover your bases and keep a packet of pocket tissues with you at all times.
7. Even the most run-down restaurants hours outside the city have “real” ceramic toilets (instead of holes in the ground and/or squatty potties like most Asian countries).
While I see the appeal of squatty potty Asian styled toilets, I don’t like them very much. They hurt my knees. I was also weak after surgery – I can’t imagine trying to use an Asian styled toilet for the days following my hospital release.
Thankfully I never had to.
8. No matter how “run down” the establishment, they always have a separate bathroom for men and women.
9. The “men” and “women” bathroom signs are often adorable and themed.
Look how classy these signs are:
I loved them. This one even had dolls.
And look at this. Llamas. What.
10. You can buy entire toilets at some of the markets in Cusco. Why? I don’t know.
My husband was thrilled to find toilets for sale in the “smuggler’s market” in Cusco. I don’t know who was buying them, but he sure had fun looking (and playing) with them.
Just look at how happy he was.
11. Unless you are in a nice establishment, don’t expect to find hot water or soap to wash your hands.
And I think that’s ok. Always carry hand sanitizer with you, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
12. The only automatic flush toilets I found in the entire country were in the airport.
And when the power went out in part of the airport, the automatic toilets stopped flushing and backed up. It was horribly nasty.
I’m not joking, when we were at the Lima airport waiting for our flight, part of the power was out in the international terminal. Unfortunately that also meant that none of the automatic toilets could flush. Everything was backed up and nasty – and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Manual toilet flushes are the way to go in countries that occasional lose power.
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