Thursday, May 7, 2009

Toilet Paper and The Kitchen Sink

I have been thinking about some of the more subtle differences I experience living in another country. There are constant major hurdles of language and culture differences. I speak Spanish reasonably well, but there are times when I get completely lost in conversation. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through this culture shock and not speak any Spanish. Mérida is not an English speaking city. Cancún, Cozumel, sure! They want the Almighty Dollar and have learned to speak some English, and even Italian, French, and German. But much of our tourism in the Yucatán comes from Mexican nationals. At the present, of course, there are NO tourists due to the worldwide panic pandemic.

Before I go on I would like to say that Yucatecans are very clean people. We didn’t need any of China’s alcohol or cotton balls here! These folks shower several times a day. This is understandable, especially when the temperature is in the 100’s from April until November. The men here wear long pants, socks and shoes. The women wear dresses, nylons and sport high heels. Walking to the corner I break out in a full sweat wearing a singlet and shorts, but I can jump into the swimming pool when I finish my walks. These folks enjoy an occasional cold shower, a heavy dousing of talcum powder, and on they go to the next task in the midday heat.

Let’s talk about toilets. If you have been to México, you know that most toilets do not have seats. Toilet seats are not an expensive item, so cost can’t be the problem. A 45 peso investment could comfort your hind end for years. Maybe they don’t want people to get in the habit of sitting on the toilet. Maybe the idea is to make sure you squat. I happen to like toilet seats, so my five bathrooms have them.

Why is toilet paper such a coveted item? I know when we travel we wouldn’t go as far as Chichén Itzá without carrying our own roll. The Pemex gas stations along the highways constantly surprise me. I always carry my own paper, and sometimes am pleasantly surprised to find a super clean, nicely tiled restroom, with toilet paper, soap and hand towels. Other times I have to hold my breath, squat over a disgustingly full toilet, and just be glad I have a place to relieve myself as I unroll the flimsy paper I had smashed in my pocket, having not a square to spare, so to speak. Those situations are when you MOST want to wash your hands thoroughly, but of course there is no water…..or the toilet would have flushed six users ago.

Mexican toilets are not built to accept foreign matter. No one throws their paper into the toilet, let alone feminine supplies! There is always a trash receptacle next to a toilet for used paper, even if there is no paper provided. Every now and again I forget and accidentally throw my paper in the commode. After several flushes, it will finally swirl down. It is enough hassle to remind me to use the trash bin.

Now here is what confuses me. Considering an entire culture that doesn’t throw paper in the toilet, I don’t understand why they think it is ok to throw shitloads of food, paper, or whatever, into the kitchen sink. There are no garbage disposals. Sinks are always plugging up. Why? Because there are wrappers, chunks of food and all kinds of gross shit in there blocking the drain. If the toilet couldn’t take it, what makes them think the sink can?

Next up, dental torture.


Teresa said...

What pretty kitty's you have! I've been looking at your blog, you have been everywhere, didn't realize you were a cruiser! And.....when you find out why there aren't toilet seats in Mexico please let me know, I've been wondering about it for 6 years!

Linda Dorton said...

Do you like the photo of Weasel kissing Mokito's ass? I couldn't resist posting the photo. It looks like it goes better with the post above this one!

These kitties are an endless source of entertainment and joy.

Islagringo said...

I laughed out loud when I recently read the advice to always wash your hands for 20 seconds, using soap, dry them with a paper towel and use the towel to open the door when using a public toilet. Ok, then. And who is going to police all the toilets in Mexico that have none of these things?

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I have to agree about Yucatecans being the personally cleanest people when it comes to bathing. But as for throwing trash away? I have seen people toss wrappers on the ground or into other people's windows without a thought.

Melissa said...

I have rented several places on the peninsula and all but two actually had toilet seat covers. The first, well, didn't have a toilet, but I got pretty good at coming prepared with a stick to keep the turkeys away from me. But the other place had a normal bathroom, just no toilet seat. We lived there for just about a year. To this day, I still wonder why I didn't invest in a toilet seat to use for the duration.

Linda Dorton said...

Maybe it was a while back when there were no WalMarts, Home Depots, Chedrauis, etc, and toilet seats (not being a popular item then) were hard to find!

Or you just adjusted to local style and bit the bullet. You may have been happy to have a toilet after shooing away turkeys in the bush!