The Reluctant Toilet

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Posted by Travis in Seattle from ( on martes, enero 06, 2004 at 22:16:42 :

(I noticed Chinto's "On the Serious Side" post--good for you Chinto--and thought I'd post this blurb here. I wrote it recently about a different part of Mexico where I was traveling...but it's on the same topic.)

"The Reluctant Toilet"

Inevitably, if you travel in Mexico, sooner or later – and probably sooner - you will find yourself staring down one of its more common hazards: The Reluctant Toilet.

I recently found myself doing battle with a particularly cranky instrument in the state of Nayarit. When faced with this situation, it’s important to know what to do, and what not to do.

First of all, never provoke The Reluctant Toilet. Don’t challenge it. Just don’t. If you pick a fight, you will lose. In my experience, The Reluctant Toilet can be tamed, but never conquered. Proceed slowly, cautiously, and always be gentle.

I’ve sometimes found positive reinforcement helps. If you can manage to persuade The Reluctant Toilet to choke down anything of consequence, a few kind words of encouragement directed its way might help. A simple “Good going!” or “Nice down!” could make a world of difference with its disposition.

This then brings us to “what not to do”. Shoving extravagant amounts of toilet paper down its throat is essentially a declaration of war, a war you are ill-equipped to wage. Ever notice why every toilet in Mexico has a plastic-lined waste basket next to it? That’s why. As indelicate as it may seem at first, if you’re planning to spend any amount of quality time with The Reluctant Toilet, that’s where the paper goes.

Still, old habits die hard. Even knowing all this there will be times when you accidentally and reflexively toss the papeles higiénico into the testy vessel. When this happens, you have no choice. There is only one option.


A small prayer might also be in order. Whatever your persuasion, toss pride out the window, or down the toilet as it were, and plead with The Reluctant Toilet to take one for the team.

In the end, should you lose the battle, don’t wallow in shame. Remember you’re on vacation. Chin up and walk away. And, assuming there is a housekeeper where you’re staying, leave a VERY generous tip.

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