Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TP or Not TP.... That is the Question

Toilet paperImage via Wikipedia

There are two things about toilet paper in Peru that you need to know. First of all, always - ALWAYS - carry some with you. Second, when in doubt, don't flush it.

Before I came to Peru, I had read something about carrying TP with you while you traveled. I assumed, in my naivety, that meant to places like Machu Picchu, or the jungle - you know, when you got away from 'civilization'. No. It means when you go to the grocery store, or McDonald's, or.. anywhere. You're never assured of having TP available. Of course, you're never assured of having anything remotely resembling a clean bathroom available either, but I digress. ;)

Now, things are better than they were 6 years ago - as the economy here has improved, I've noticed an increase in TP provisioning. One thing to watch out for is the 'master TP roll'. At many public restrooms, instead of having a roll in each stall there will be a large roll on the wall out by the sinks. You get the TP you need, and then take it in the stall with you. This is supposed to keep people from stealing, I think... but really it just encourages them to take much more than they need.

Another thing you'll see, especially in markets, is the pay-per-use TP. There will be a person sitting at a little booth out front of the bathrooms, and you'll pay 50 centimos for a small amount of TP to take in with you. If you need more, you have to pay twice.

Now. About disposing of this TP, assuming you've been able to find some. While things are improving in the newer areas of Lima, most plumbing in Peru is very old. Pipes are narrow. I've heard some old pipes are made of terra cotta, whose interior has gone rough and 'clingy' over time. The point is, paper doesn't like to pass. I've seen the horrors of narrow pipes here in my own home. So most Peruvians toss their used TP in little waste bins in the bathroom rather than flushing. I know, it seems unhygienic - but it's a 1000 times less icky than having toilets running over in your bathroom and unholy masses of filth being plucked from the pipes by the plumber.

So, if you plan on coming to Peru my advice to you is:
Always have a spare roll of TP in your purse or backpack.
Don't Flush!
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  1. I find the idea of researching correlations between TP availability and economic growth extremely tantalizing...

  2. Funny, I was thinking the same thing when I wrote this. :D

  3. I love your blogs..Everything there is fascinating and really makes you realize how many things we take for granted here in the states..


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