Thursday, January 30, 2014

P as in Privacy

Don Cuevas, exposed in the men's room, Restaurant Zandunga, Oaxaca

Below are a few of my observations, acquired over time in Mexico, of the role privacy plays or fails to play in public restrooms in various locals, such as bus stations. If you are sensitive or easily offended, I suggest that you go read another blog. This one will lay it out the way I see it. If you are ready, Read On>>

From peons to princes, when you gotta go, you gotta go. You can't let cultural hangups impede you.

It's been a long time since we first came to México, 1980, in fact. Over the years I've had to culturally acclimatize myself to different attitudes towards peeing in public or, more precisely, trying to do so privately, while teams of female restroom cleaners bustle about washing and sanitizing the facilities, often within a couple of yards of where I stand. I'm finally getting to where I can go about my business without freezing up due to my North of the Border cultural inhibitions.

Perhaps the first encounter with this was at a rustic house along the highway into Cuetzalan, Puebla, that a group of cavers had rented to serve as a base for explorations of the area's enlaced subterranean drainage. The improvised toilet was out back outside, a few yards from a well used trail, and was basically a seat over a pit, the sides shielded by canvas but with no frontal coverage, that is, no door at all! Fortunately for modesty, the area is prone to heavy fog as well as drizzles.

My second exposure to this cultural anomaly was at el Jardin de la Uníon, in Guanajuato, on a cold January day. I had to "go", and soon! and when my inquiries for "el baño" sent me to a subterranean set of baños, I was intrigued. (about half of the city of Guanajuato is underground.)

But what was the abuelita and her granddaughter doing there, selling passes to the pissoirs? Her table was positioned between the open doors of the Caballeros y Damas facilities, and she gave me a small fold of papel higíenico for my pittance of a peso payment.

Urgency overcame any false modesty or inhibition, for really, they didn't have a view into the men's room; but they would get a gander if they turned around.

Over the years, I became more accustomed to restroom workers in close proximity, but I'm still assessing the situation as I zip in and out.

One encounter which, while interesting, formed no barrier to my use of the rest room was the girl employee just inside an antechamber to one of the mega men's room at Terminal Poniente, Mexico City.

She was collecting the money while eating a torta. Every employee needs a break from time to time. She and her associates have since been replaced by a coin operated turnstile gate. It's much less efficient than a live employee.

While in the baño at both the TAPO, Mexico City and ADO, Oaxaca bus stations, I recently underwent the Test of my aplombing. At TAPO there was at least one female employee cleaning and disinfecting toilet stalls, a few yards from the relief points, as I did what I needed to do at the upright porcelain piano.

Our arrival at Oaxaca's ADO First Class Terminal after a 6 1/2 hour bus ride meant that my bladder cried for immediate attention, so I went up the stairs, paid into a coin slot in an elaborate turnstile gate, and entered the Caballeros' room. I immediately saw that there was a team of three female workers, sudsing and scrubbing the sinks and floor. They hadn't quite reached the corner where the urinals were located, and I'm proud to say that I did what I needed to do with no hesitancy, while my modesty was adequately shielded by the privacy panel.

I will say, without any false modesty, that I've come a great distance in stilling my previous inhibitions in this area. Now, if you expect my usual plethora of photos, they are, naturally, not available for this post, owing to my innate discretion and modesty. But, if you insist, you can see these photos of the most beautiful men's room I've ever been in in México, at Restaurante Casa Valadez, in Guanajuato. (There was no attendant or sanitation persons at the time of my visit.)

Moderne Urinals   Hand Sinks  A Sculptured Lamp A Chandelier

Don Cuevas

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