Thursday, September 29, 2011


Many may know me as a 'princess', or even as high maintenance, which can both be very true. For those of you who know that side of me, you would be so proud and impressed with my daily bathroom choices. Literally, finding a bathroom when we are out working can be difficult. I will admit to 'popping a squat' as needed. Like the one time I peed behind a soccer court only to find out some lady was up on her roof watching me, or another time I had Chad keep a lookout for me while I peed behind a car on a dark street in Ilave. Being a girl here can be difficult. There is not always a bathroom around and when there is, the condition is questionable and you have to pay. Yep, I pay S/. 0.30 - 0.50 ($0.10 -0.20) to use these public "bathrooms". Oh yeah, and the price I pay includes a few squares of toilet paper, not on a roll in the stall, but handed to you personally before you enter. So, over the last week or so I've taken some pictures of the bathrooms we frequent to share in this experience with you. Its not the same as in person, but hopefully you'll get a little idea of what daily life is like here! ;)

So here's the first and best bathroom. This is the bathroom Franci and I share. It's an all-in-one type bathroom. You see the drain on the floor? That's because our shower head is directly above it. No curtain, no separate shower, its all right there. But, I love our little bathroom. It's functional, we don't have to share it with the guys, and we have and electrical shower head for hot water. Yes, electrical shower head. Peru does not know that water and electricity don't mix. I've shocked myself a few times but now know only to adjust the water pressure with two fingers on the metal lever covered in a thin casing of plastic.
This bathroom I would probably rate second best. It wins in convenience and price as it's the bathroom in the house we rent in Yanamayo. Most of our contacts live nearby within 3-5 blocks so we can always make a quick stop at the house as needed during the day. The only problem is, we get one flush a day. The water only runs from about 5am to 7am. So by the time we get to the house, there is no running water. One of the neighbors occasionally fills up the trash can with water so we can flush the toilet with a bucket of water. But, he's quite unreliable and we've gone many weeks without water. The good thing is, when the water runs in the morning, it fills up the pipes and that's why we get one flush a day.
This is the public bathroom we use when we're in Huascar. We literally have to walk 15-20 minutes to get here and it's the closest public bathroom. Its actually decent and has running water which is a perk. You can flush the toilet and run your hands under some water in the sink. But there urinal cracks me up! Which brings me to another point....most bathrooms are unisex.
In Chucuito we've found a really cute menu (restaurant) where we eat lunch and use the bathroom. Here's the bathroom. Very typical. Concrete, no toilet seat, a bucket for a trash can, and a metal door that doesn't shut all the way. But its free with lunch!
Of course we have outhouses too! When Mom and Dad were here, we were in a combi heading to Ilave to spend the day out on the farm and Mom saw all these little blue outhouses lining the road and up into the hills. Mom expressed to Dad and I how impressed she was with the availability of rest stops on the way to Ilave. This is what I told her, "Mom, you see those houses out there?" "Yeah." she responded. "Well, these are the bathrooms for those houses." Mom was astonished and embarrassed. Out in the country, even in the outskirts of town like Chucuito and Yanamayo, people use outhouses. That is their one and only bathroom. Above you can see the 'door', a potato sack that really only covers your bottom half, in Ilave you can gaze out at the farm, sheep and crops while squatting in the outhouse over the hole in the planks of wood.
And of course, an official squatty potty. This is from the public bathroom in a market called Bellavista. It's pretty simple. Put your feet on the feet marks and squat. Toilet paper goes in the trash can like everywhere else in Peru and then you go out, grab a bucket of water and splash it on the squatty potty.

So there you go! Now you know and have seen more than you want to!

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