Five Things To Know About Central American Bathrooms

Adjusting to a new environment can be tough; adjusting to a foreign bathroom can be even tougher. Lucky for you we’ve got a guest post this week from Central American toilet wizard and raccoon warrior Luke Armstrong .

I met Luke over the interwebs last week when he helped connect me to a Danish journalist.  Idle chatter followed, then serious chatter followed, and then full on discussion of foreign bathroom strategies and tactics followed in war-room like fashion. It was then I recognized that Luke was a travel Jedi and immediately followed him Twitter.

Realizing the information we both respectively shared was too important to keep from the general public we decided to trade guest posts for the greater good. You can read my guest post on Luke’s site here about 5 Things to Know About the Bathrooms When You Travel Asia. Without further ado, the wisdom of Central American bathroom Oracle Luke Armstrong.

Though we can be sure of little in life, it is safe to say that any trip to Central America will include prolonged periods in Central American bathrooms. Unless of course you use the jungle, in which case, I tip my hat to you, sir.

While I am not an expert in the field of Central American bathrooms, I’ve had most of my life and death experiences inside of them. As the adage goes, si no tomas cuidado en el baño es possible que una explosion el tomaño de una gorilla le pueda pasar. And nobody wants a gorilla explosion on their unwashed hands.

5. Toilet Paper Has A Different Destiny in Central America

”¡Dios mío!”

You wouldn’t play billiards with bowling balls, would you? Then why would you flush toilet paper into plumbing not designed for it? More importantly, why didn’t they design Central America’s plumbing to accommodate the second most likely material to be flushed?

Well, they didn’t in a lot of places in Central America. So, por favor, put your toilet paper in the bin.

If, when you return to the US, you catch yourself accidentally disposing of your wipings in the trash bin, swear silently to yourself and carry on this one last time.

4.  Some bathrooms in Central America are infested with raccoons

I like to take my pants off and show people the raccoon scars on my legs. They are from a fateful night in Livingston, Guatemala. I was washing my face after an evening of dirty grins. A raccoon kamikaze’d from the jungle and sunk his teeth into me. He had a taste for my blood and meant business.

Procuring rabies vaccinations in time turned out to be a more exciting endeavor than it should have been.

Remember, there are creepy crawlers everywhere. Some of them live in the bathroom. Most of them want to bite you. Do not be fooled.

3. Don’t Drink The Water

This one should be obvious, but not every gringo in Central America sees eye to eye on it. Having worked on implementing water systems in San Lorenzo Tejar, Guatemala, I can tell you tales that would make your ice melt.

The argument for drinking the water in Central America is usually framed like this, “I drink the tap water and I am fine.”

But he clearly isn’t. He is showing obvious signs of giardia. If you were to make a movie about his life, Travel in the Time of Cholera would be an apt title. Clinically speaking, he has worms. Do not argue with such a gringo. Buy him medicine.

2.  A Central American Bathroom Is No Place For Your Yoga Practice

Central America is not like Belgian, where you just throw your Yoga mat down next to the pot. Here we have some serious bacterial terrorists lurking around.

Helicobacter pylori is as bad a bacteria as it sounds. And yes, it does fly around in microscopic helicopters preying on people who do yoga in Central America bathrooms.

Helicobacter pylori is real people, and it could happen to you. By my estimation Helicopter Bacteria kills more people than Space Shuttles.

1. The Showers Explode

“Duck and cover!”

Central American travelers are already well acquainted with suicide showers. Suicide showers are showers that try to be as dangerous as possible. In a suicide shower the water is heated from a power source affixed to the showerhead. All of the deaths I’ve read about concerning suicide showers happened when people touched the head (a huge no-no).

But what about when they explode? Does anyone know anyone who’s been taken out that way?

In 2011 I lived in a house in Jocotenango, Guatemala where one such shower had the tendency of exploding its head, creating overwhelming sparks. When it went, it sounded like a frag grenade had gone off. As exciting as it was, it was also terrifying, and my roommate, photographer Ray Conway, began to have night terrors.

Remember, inside every bathroom there is a war raging. Invest in a bathroom helmet when traveling to Central America. If you are a hippy who cannot afford one, you can make one with a bike helmet, a blanket, a rear view mirror, a hardcover edition of War and Peace and duct tape.

Luke Armstrong Brief Bio:Luke Maguire Armstrong  (TravelWriteSing) once fought a bear and almost died. Haters later claimed it was “only a raccoon” and he was “acting like a baby.” When he is not being mauled by animals, Luke is an writer/musician who has spent the last five years working in human rights and development from Guatemala to Kenya to The Bronx. He’s also spent a suspicious amount of time in the last five years at bars. He needs to write a new book already, because no one is buying the old one about dolphins. Follow him @LukeSpartacus and he will sing you songs.

Luke: Writer, Poet, Singer, Lover of Giraffes.
Luke: Writer, Poet, Singer, Lover of Giraffes.

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