WTF Weds: Don’t Flush Toilet Paper in Peru

Posted on
Oct 12, 2011

Can't we all just be adults here?

When I left for Peru, I took a small pack of tissues with me. I’d read that in more rural areas, we might not find toilet paper in public bathrooms. This didn’t really phase me: one time in Italy I’d peed in little more than a hole in the ground. A place not offering toilet paper isn’t that big an offense.

While the tissues came in handy, what was far more difficult to get used to, and what I discovered immediately upon arriving in Lima, is that in Peru (and, indeed, in many parts of the world) it’s not customary to toss your toilet paper into the bowl to dispose of it. Instead of flushing it down, you throw it in a trash can that’s conveniently placed next to the bowl. I’ve read a variety of reasons why this might be the case (everything from the drainage pipes being narrower to septic tanks being designed differently, and even one account that it might just all be an Old Wives’ tale) but the bottom (heh) line? You toss your t.p. in the trash. It’s just understood.

The pristine toilet bowl and trash can in our hotel in Lima.

(Interestingly, this now makes one of the things Philip mentioned in his “Toilets of Japan” post a while back make sense. They were clearly catering to visitors who were accustomed to not flushing their used paper.)

I, unfortunately, had trouble following the rules. Even after I read a sign and comprehended it (in both Spanish and English! Hooray for bilingual bathroom etiquette!) I still kept tossing my paper in the bowl. It’s really a reflex – I did it without thinking (next time you’re in the bathroom, you’ll find the same is true. Tossing paper into the bowl is not something to ruminate over. And if you do decide to get pensive over some soiled Charmin … Sigh. Well, whatever. I’ve found inspiration in weird places, too.)

I figured I’d never get the hang of peeing in Peru. I probably ruined several septic tanks across Lima and Cuzco, and I started to feel guilty about it. A few times I remembered to use the trash can, but that didn’t make things better. I felt … unclean, knowing my paper will still around. I may have gone a little Lady MacBeth while washing my hands a few times as a result.

Seriously – where is a nice hole in the ground when you need it?

I finally did get the hang of things, you’ll be pleased to know. I used an airport bathroom and tossed my toilet paper discretely in the small trash can in my stall. The only problem? I was in Los Angeles.

 

Tags

, ,

Leave a Comment

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • I didn't do nearly all that I set out to do today. But I had a lovely dinner thanks to this man and some excellent out of town guests. So perhaps the measure of a day isn't always about that damn checklist. (Maybe. Ask me again tomorrow when all the stress hits me. 🤔😅)
  • You can't expect things to look *exactly* like the picture in the cookbook. But sometimes they do anyway. #alisonroman #diningincookbook #diningin #cocoabananabread #instadesserts #baking
  • Here it is, folks. The paperback edition of my book is out today. The hardcover came out more than two years ago, so it's wonderful to know that this story of mine still has life and is, gasp, still selling copies. Don't miss the book that Lauren Graham called "the travel companion you'll be happy you brought along" and that some guy on Twitter said was "immature and stupid." It's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. #bookstagram #summerreading #bookworms
  • This lady. ❤️❤️❤️ So proud of her.
  • HAPPY LAUNCH DAY!! I really want to curl up in bed with this amazing novel today, but I can't - for an amazing reason. Because I'm going to be at the Lake Forest Park location of Third Place Books tonight, discussing it with the author, my dear friend @andreadunlop. Lady, I'm so proud of you. ❤️ ❤️❤️ #bookstagram #summerreading
  • Baking in an AirBnB is always an adventure. I didn't have a measuring cup for the flour so I eyeballed it, and had to use a wine bottle as a rolling pin to make these handpies. Not my best work, but @demeritt and @randderuiter seemed cool with the results, so I'm going to accept that sometimes good enough is, well, enough. 🥧🍴
  • "I hit the jackpot." That's how I once heard Michael J. Fox describe his marriage years ago, and it stayed with me. I've never found a better way of describing our relationship than that. Bells ring. Lights flash. Coins spill everywhere. Now, where's my complimentary breakfast?
  • Someone sent Rand socks with his face all over them, and he's really bothered by this but I'm gonna rock the hell out of them.
  • I told him to stop looking at the camera.
  • Eating junk food on the ferry with this guy right before dinner is kind of the dream.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.

BE AWESOME. BUY IT.