Peru Poo Two

Peru Poo Two

OCTOBER 8TH
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.

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Peeing on Three Continents.

Peeing on Three Continents.

OCTOBER 1ST
I peed on three continents today.* It all started with a bleary-eyed piss in the disabled toilet of the Galway Coach station. I like the toilets there – they are relatively clean and, presumably correlated, accessible only through a 40cent turnstile, keeping out the proletariat. The regular coin-accessible toilets were closed for cleaning, however, meaning I had bought a bottle of Sprite for change and for naught.

Upon exiting the bathroom, I stumbled onto a bus and ended up in Dublin Airport. They had a toilet there too, so I peed in it. It was an underwhelming experience. That isn’t even my poop smeared on the bottom of the toilet bowl. The first soap dispenser, tap, and hand-drier all failed to work, but not in any spectacularly dramatic or entertaining fashion.
Inspired by a tweet** from the wonderful Hannah Fry, I did download the BBC Four Pandemic app, which sought to study how quickly a virulent disease might spread. To do my part, I promptly boarded a flight to Peru, via Canada.

I refrained from using the facilities on board either plane, because I was trying to remain hydrated. I do not know if that is how hydration works. I wish I had studied a more practical science than maths. Some of these equations would be significantly more useful if you knew what values the variables represented.
The first public bathroom in Toronto I tried to use seemed to adhere to America’s policy that cubicles in public bathrooms need to be very public indeed – a regulated minimum of a two-inch gap between the door and its frame, so that you can see if the person using the toilet before you is circumsized, and walls that begin at the knee, so you can show off your new shoes to the entire row of cubicles.
The second bathroom was better – note the proper wall, and the rail for parkour.

Eventually, my father, my brother and I made it to our lovely Airbnb in Lima. Here is one of the three bathrooms:

It was a little small, and lacked a sink, but it was the one beside my bedroom. Sadly, after over a day’s travelling, it was unable to meet my demands, and so, very sleep-deprived, I found myself faced with an issue even Your Man on the Can’s How to Unblock a Toilet‘s recommended first course of action was unable to rectify. In the end, I added some warm water*** to soften the stool overnight. In such instances, a little dish-washing liquid can sometimes help to lubricate the sides of the bowl, but in the event that a caretaker or plumber had needed to called, I didn’t want to risk having to explain, without any Spanish, why the blocked toilet was full of suds.
In the morning, it still would not flush, so I found something long and disposable (an empty kitchen roll holder) and broke up the blockage therewith. That did the trick, and the toilet flushed without further ado.

When my father noticed what I was doing, he advised that, in future, using some of those antibacterial baby wipes, as opposed to normal toilet tissue, would reduce the quantity of paper needed, and thus reduce the likelihood of blockage. Of course, I already knew this, and it had not been the paper causing the blockage, but it was good to hear that the apple had not fallen so very far from the tree.

Somewhat related – if any of you have somehow not yet come across the fantastic Bristol Stool Scale story, I highly recommend, without even a hint of reservation:
A Daily Mail article.

 

Love,

Your Man on the Can

Addendum:
The Pandemic app’s “survey” was uninspiring, though I am curious to see what results are yielded. Most disappointing of all, perhaps, was that the “Distance travelled” options only ranged up as far as “100+ km”. What a waste of an almost 12000 kilometre trip! 😦

 

*I am relieved that I had no cause to use an incontinence pun there.
**A message posted to all of one’s followers on the social media site “Twitter” – a bizarre platform which somehow managed to survive and maintain popularity from 2006 to 2019, despite its sole “advantage” being an imposed 140-character text limit, which the majority of its users circumvented by posting multiple messages at once, or half an unhelpful sentence followed by a hyperlink. It served as a useful source of anti-epigrams and a soapbox for infinitely-recycled opinion on the one topical news item du jour.
***Closer to boiling than is recommended, in fact, but I added it very slowly and carefully so as not to risk cracking the ceramic.