Buttered Side Down
We were exposed to this dilemma for the first time when we stayed with my friend at a surf camp he ran. He was giving us the tour of the camp & rooms and when we got to the bathroom he asked, “You guys do know you need to put your toilet paper in the trash, right?” We both nodded our head yes and I began to feel guilty for the plumbing problem I must have left behind at the hotel we stayed at for our first few nights in Nicaragua. Then he said something I will never forget, “Just make sure you put it buttered side down.”
Now that we’ve lived in Nicaragua for over a year, I can honestly say, putting my soiled toilet paper in the garbage is the norm for me. At every establishment there is always a small trash can next to the toilet just for this purpose. Since we live in a Gringo town, it is usually accompanied by a sign telling you what the bin is there for. On our first trip home I had to correct myself a few times after placing my tissue in the trash. Here we have a house cleaner that works for us 6 days a week. I assume one of the most unpleasant parts of her job is to empty trash daily. This ensures that even on the hottest days, our bathroom doesn’t smell like an outhouse.
“Why,” you might ask, “is this necessary in Nicaragua?” Its my understanding that in Central America they use the cheaper 1/2 inch pipes. When you place a wad into the toilet bowl, especially the amount used to wipe succeeding a defecation, the smaller pipe cannot handle the mass of TP. This coupled with the lack of water pressure, creates an even lesser chance of the tissue making its way all the way down to the septic. The pipes are also sometimes without a significant angle, leaving less gravity to work for you.
Many Gringos refuse to adapt their hygienic practices to Central American plumbing. I would rather not have that uncomfortable conversation with my landlord, so I surrendered and I do my dooty the Nica way. Now used tampons…that’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.