Baños

Ah, civilization! ©2012 Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

It’s good to be back in civilization at Bogota’s Hilton Hotel where there are real toilets. At so many places we’ve visited in South America, the toilet is simply the porcelain god sans a seat. Obviously, this is not a problem for half the global population. For the other half, a seat-less toilet requires practicing squats over an open vessel and hoping that gravity directs the pee straight down. Sometimes, precarious squatting to avoid puddles results in the pee running down one’s leg in a most unpleasant, unhygienic stream.

I don’t know why so many toilets have no seats in Colombia and Peru. Is it a cultural thing? A sign of the global economy? Have the owners of said toilets resigned themselves and removed the seats in advance of their theft? Are the seats missing so that Latinas can self-inflict further orthopedic damage while teetering on their 5” heels?

At the baños at the ruins of Pisac, Peru, the four unisex stalls fell below the quality of an outhouse in rural America. Each contained a hole in the ground surrounded by a cast piece of porcelain. A ribbed step on either side of the hole let the user stand in one place and hit the opening squarely below. Think of the ribbed steps as accelerators.

Miles and his mom Michelle Hufford braved the bathroom at the hole in the wall where we ate lunch. Both claimed that the facilities were “interesting.” That’s always a bad sign.

If nothing else, the facilities mentioned above were free. At many tourist sites we had to cough up a peso or sole before entering the toilet. Atop Cerro Nutibara in Medellin, Colombia, at the Pueblito Paisa, the going rate was two Colombian pesos, about $1US.

Usually the pay toilets included papel higiénico. Pity the poor turistica, though, who fails to carry a wad of toilet paper in a pocket. There’s nothing quite like hiking through the Sacred Valley with an ungodly smell in the air.

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About Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

Mom, first mate and writer aboard a 40' Manta catamaran, S/V Happy Times.
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