Before leaving the UK I asked for recommendations of things to blog about, and toilet behaviour and etiquette seemed to come up a fair few times. Whilst travelling through Ecuador and Peru there were undoubtedly a few dos and don’ts that one needed to be aware of, including:
- Relax! Ecuadorian and Peruvian toilets typically are Western style with seats and all that fanciness. In little villages away from the tourist trails you are more likely to find long drops and less endearing places, but when you need to go, you need to go. When travelling on bus trips and the on-board toilet doesn’t work (very common in Ecuador), toilet stops can be in the middle of anywhere, sometimes with no privacy in sight. Girls: travelling with skirts can help keep things polite and squatting discreet, unless bum out is your style. Guys: not so much of a problem, right?
- Toilet paper does not get flushed down the toilet. It gets placed in a bin besides the toilet. The waste pipes can’t cope with toilet paper so to avoid blocking the system, it’s crucial to follow this simple rule: nothing but pee and poo gets flushed.
- In public toilets you typically pay a fee to go to the loo, and if you want toilet paper it costs extra. Hand over an average of $0.15 to the toilet attendant who will then hand you over a little, neatly folded gift of toilet roll. Don’t spend time thinking about the hygiene of this. Just get on with it!
- In shopping centres and some public toilets you will have to queue to get toilet paper before joining an actual toilet queue. It’s very public, – everyone can see how much you take. Apparently this is done because there is a tendency to steal toilet paper, why, who knows (the only experience I have of that is amongst backpackers who are quick to shove a half used toilet roll into their bag when leaving a hostel).
- In houses and restaurants there will usually be toilet paper in the bathroom, but don’t rely on it, particularly when out and about. It’s always worth carrying some tissue or toilet paper with you.
Maybe this is some help to someone. Who knows?! Just don’t worry about it. It should definitely not be a reason to avoid a place.