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A Word About Toilet Etiquette in Peru

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America

--- On Sun, 4/18/10, <******@verizon.net> wrote: OK… when do we find out more about the toilet etiquette??

Many of you have asked me about the "toilet etiquette" in Peru that I mentioned in a recent e-mail. I wrote about the toilet etiquette here when I first arrived: "Because of the unsophisticated plumbing in Peru, used toilet paper is NOT flushed down the toilet, but is placed in a separate bin NEXT to the toilet. This was a hard concept for me to grasp. Like, gross!"

When I tell new voluntarios about this unusual custom, they are as grossed out as I was weeks ago when I arrived. Of course, now it's old hat, although still somewhat weird. You will never find a toilet in Peru without one of these next to it. They come in all different sizes, depending on how many people use one toilet, but always look the same. There are exceptions to this particular toilet ritual, of course. It does not apply in big fancy hotels. Perhaps these hotels have their own plumbing systems.

While we're on the subject of el baño, another thing you must always do in Peru is carry toilet paper with you at all times (especially if you are a girl.) Toilet paper is not a priority in public restrooms here, nor are paper towels, soap or sometimes even toilet seats (I'm not talking about lid covers, but the actual seats themselves). Luckily, with or without paper, the public restrooms here are still a step above many of the the public restrooms in France, some of which consist of a drain in the ground surrounded by a privacy screen.

If you happen to be in a public restroom in Peru that requires you to pay to use the facilities, women pay more to use the ladies room than men pay to use the mens room. Why? Because the ladies room has toilet paper. What if men need paper? Lo siento, yo no se!

Read the rest of the blogs in this series here.
 
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