|Subject: Potty Talk|
It's amazing how many times "Toilet Stories" come up when
talking to travellers.
The automatic toilets in Southern France sound like jet planes getting ready for take-off once the user comes out of them and they prepare to self-clean.
A toilet in a road side stop on the highway outside of Rome where the stalls are lined up over a grate, gave a full view of the plumbing. When the toilets flush, everything is processed right under your feet!
In Fez, Morocco I was escorted from our restaurant by a young boy through narrow streets to a public facility. Through an old door, we entered a courtyard with stalls lined up on two sides (reminded me of horse stables). An old lady filled a bucket with water from a central trough, opened a stall door, poured the water onto the stall floor, smiled at me and pointed me inside. It was the usual hole in the ground, which doesn't bother me. What threw me off was when I came out of the stall and saw people at the courtyard water pump washing their hands with Sunlight detergent. Fortunately, prior to visiting the country I had read about "hand" protocol and so placed my left hand in the water, took some of the detergent, washed my right hand with my left and everyone nodded approvingly. Placing my "used" hand in the water would have been highly offensive. The lady escorted me to the door of the building to hand me over to the young boy who was waiting. Of course, she wanted a few coins and, of course, I hadn't taken my purse with me. What to do? The young boy and I walked back to the restaurant, I retrieved some coins, and we went back to the facilities. The reaction when I returned was amazing. Smiles all around from women and men alike. I'm sure they thought I wasn't going to return - a rude traveller. Everyone was very friendly after I paid the old lady.
In Beijing, at an out-of-the way restaurant with our Chinese hosts, I asked for the location of the facilities. One of our female hosts escorted me to an outdoor facility down a laneway - again similar to a horse stall. What was so intriguing about this experience was my hostess saying to me that she was thankful that I had "to go". So did she but it wouldn't have been polite for her to leave her guests at the table. A new lesson in etiquette. Lucy, Toronto