This is one of the other bathrooms in the apartment we stayed in. As you can perhaps see despite my inferior photography skills, it was substantially nicer than mine. Still, given that I had needed to unblock the loo, it was probably better that my bathroom was in an out-of-the-way corner of the apartment.
Interestingly, the flush on this was different to that in what I shall perhaps overly-affectionately refer to as “my bathroom”. The latter was similar to what we are familiar with, with a flush from just under the rim of the bowl, whereas this one pushes the jet of water from the bottom of the bowl. Further, there was no set amount of water per flush – it stopped as soon as you stopped pressing the handle. I did not try to see what would happen if I kept the handle pressed until the toilet overflowed. This system has the advantage that it seems a little better at moving along whatever is lurking at the bottom of the bowl, but it seems incapable of dealing with that last little sheet of paper that remains floating on the water’s surface.
This toilet was located at a bus station in Lima, and damned right I wanted to use it before embarking on an 18 hour bus trip to Arequipa. It wasn’t a particularly glamorous toilet – no hook to hang my coat on, for example – but nevertheless, there was a queue, which moved along pretty speedily.
Apparently, you are supposed to bin toilet paper in Peru, rather than flush it. See how this diagram conveniently exhibits both methods. The claim is that Peruvian toilets and sewage system can’t handle the toilet paper, but I don’t believe that, and will continue to flush.
Binning toilet paper is all well and good if you’ve only used it to dab yourself dry, or to wipe after a dry and traceless shite, but if you have a runny-stool-covered quarter roll of paper, no one’s going to want to have to sit beside that stewing in a bin beside them.
I stumbled across this impressive site which lists what one ought to do with one’s used toilet paper in every country of the world.
The toilet on the bus was not actually so bad – rather like an airplane toilet. Fortunately, I chose a moment when the bus was stopped at a light or something to make a pee, because the journey was not smooth, and I nearly fell down the aisle when the bus took off again as I exited the bathroom. I do not know how others managed to stand straight enough to urinate into the tiny toilet. It was requested that the loo only be used for urination, but with our seats at the very back of the bus, beside the loos, we were fairly certain this was not adhered to.
This next loo was in the bus station in Arequipa. You can actually see some of my pee there in the urinal. I didn’t particularly think you’d want to see that, but there was no obvious flush mechanism. Who knows, perhaps this will help us break into the German market.
We made our way to our apartment, and were greeted by this rather decorated toilet. Obviously I blocked it. I think if I ever design a toilet, it will feature some sort of bar or blade above the waterline, so that any particularly large stools will be split in twain on the way down, and will then flush easier. It would also diminish splashback. This toilet was not so difficult to unblock – a couple of bins full of water (the only convenient receptacle I could find was the bin in the bathroom), the blockage finally made its way onward toward the local river, or the water supply or whatever. The inconvenience of dealing with the blockage was not great, though I did feel some guilt over all the water I was using, in this sun-scorched, arid town. Still, needs must…
Anyway, I fortunately subsequently contracted diarrhoea, so the toilet has not been blocked by any of my many subsequent visits. I was laughed at for packing a roll of toilet paper in my luggage, since everywhere we would stay would have some, but it has come in useful. I also purchased some baby cream in a local supermarket to aid with absterging. At least, it seems to be like baby cream which is suitable for arse-wiping. With unfamiliar names and an unfamiliar language, I could not be entirely certain what manner of unguent I was buying to apply to my anus – a dangerous enterprise. I first tested some on the skin of my arm, and suffered no disastrous consequences, and it is now some eight hours since I first applied the lotion to my arse and I am not yet in agony, so I remain cautiously optimistic in that regard.
The diarrhoea inspires less optimism – I have decided to bail on the rafting trip down the Chili river which we have booked for this afternoon, and it remains to be seen what happens tomorrow, when we are due to take a 10-hour bus-trip to the city of Cusco, with its promises of altitude sickness. If the diarrhoea has not cleared, I fear I may have to opt to stay in Arequipa for the week, leaving my brother and father to go on ahead, and foregoing my chance to see Macchu Pichu.