Monday, February 15, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- To Pee or Not to Pee

El Morro Fort in Santiago de Cuba -- this particular loophole had a strong smell of urine. Not everyone choses to pay.

Cuba has it's charms. It is also a poor country and like many others the public toilet facilities are commonly pay- to- play.
That is, an attendant or two is stationed outside. You can buy supplies on the way in although the forewarned traveller will have his or her own. You can pay then or drop a coin or so on the way out.
It's better you do as these are the people who keep the toilets clean. It's their job. It doesn't pay well. A nurse makes the equivalent of $30 a month, a chambermaid makes about $10. A public toilet attendant most likely makes much less than that so tips are important to her or him.
Stall walls are half-sized or so. I'm about 5'4" and a good stall covered me from knees to shoulders when standing up.
One of the women on the tour was about 5'10" so everyone knew where she was. She was also sensitive and was too appalled on one occasion to avail herself of the restroom.
Perhaps the toilet flushed, but it fussed about it. Sometimes water, cold, came out of the taps so I could wash my hands, on other occasions I was blessed with soap, too. Hand towels were rare. An attendant may offer toilet paper for drying one's hands.
I used the air.
We're spoiled here. Our toilet stalls as often taller than we are, they are well-stocked, and the hand-washing facilities have hot and cold water, soap, and towels or hand-driers.
We pee for free here and in many cases public toilets flush themselves.
Oh, yeah, I'm grateful.


Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

You make an excellent tour guide. You are letting us know the really important things about travel.


Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks so much, df Terrie.

Writing Without Periods! said...

I agree with Terrie, you make an excellent tour guide. To pee or not...I always worry about that when we travel. Silly but I do.

Leah J. Utas said...

Mary, thanks. You're dilemma is not so silly. Many's the time I've wished for a real choice.

Reb said...

Very important to know these things when travelling! I like to carry hand sanitizer when shopping or when we go hiking or camping too.

Leah J. Utas said...

Hand sanitizers are the best, Reb. I use them, too.

messymimi said...

I found similar situations in the facilities in some parts of Europe, and in the Dominican Republic, as a teen.

As I recall, in the places I went, the attendants were there also to make sure your belongings did not get stolen while you were otherwise occupied. Therefore you tipped before going in, or they just might not "see" what happened.

I agree that we have it good here.

Leah J. Utas said...

I recall the bits about Europe. I've never been to the Dominican Republic, but I suspect most poor countries do this.
Never heard of the watchful eye angle. Thanks.

Nancy said...

I am sooooo grateful!

Leah J. Utas said...

I hear ya, Nancy.

Hilary said...

We sure don't always realize how lucky we have things. Thanks for that reminder. I'm going to paste and send your post to my son for his information. He leaves for Cuba on the 20th.

the Bag Lady said...

I'm grateful, too, for all the amenities we take so much for granted here! I have such an aversion to public washrooms here, that I probably would have had all kinds of trouble there!
(And, having just read Mizfit's blog post, I'm wondering if it's pee-day and nobody warned me!)LOL

Leah J. Utas said...

My pleasure, Hilary. If you want more Cuba tips for your son email me.

dfBag Lady, I think you would have been thoroughly appalled by some of the facilities.

Polly Kahl said...

HI Leah, your potty trials and tribulations remind me of my trip to mexico when I was 19. Very similar bathroom struggles, but the thing I remember the most is how close the bathrooms were to the tables in restaurants, and how terribly filthy the bathrooms were, and usually with no toilet paper. They would never have met the health standards in he U.S. Loving reading about your adventures.