In Travel

Pooping in Peru: A Tale of Anxiety, Strength and Determination

I spent 5 weeks volunteering in Peru this summer. This is the tale of trying to go number 2 in a developing country.

Yeah that’s right I went there. Many travelers know that pooping in developing countries is a bit of gamble. Will it actually flush or will you have a panic attack when you go to flush and nothing happens.

I was hesitant to go number 2 on this trip so I had been holding it in for days. Finally when I was alone I took the opportunity. So it was me vs. The Peruvian toilet. Readers you can guess what happened….the Peruvian toilet won. I was confident it would flush because no one had used the toilet in awhile. I made the assumption that the tank would be full. I flushed it and nothing happened. I thought I didn’t apply enough pressure so I flushed again this time more aggressively. Still nothing happened. Anxiety began to set in so I decided to be proactive about the situation. I lifted off the toilet tank and it was empty and not refilling itself. I knew enough about toilets to know the tank needed to be filled with water to flush. I started looking around the bathroom frantically for something to fill with tap water to dump into the tank. I checked the around the bathroom and bedroom but there was nothing. I didn’t even have a water bottle on me. My eyes fell upon the garbage can. I grabbed it dumped out the trash and began to fill it with water. The can was pretty big so I filled about half the tank. I went to flush the toilet and the water was coming out a gross brown. It turned out the bedroom garbage can was filthy inside. So even though the toilet was flushing again the water was coming out a gross brown, which made the situation worse. Now I had to find something relatively clean to fill the tank with to get rid of the dirty water. I saw that the garbage had a lid attached to it so if I held the garbage sideways I could fill it with water. The lid wouldn’t hold a lot of water so it took a long time to do. Twenty minutes later I had successfully filled the tank with clean looking water. I started to give myself a pep talk before I went for that flush. If this didn’t work I’d just go out so I wouldn’t be there when the gross water was discovered.

I wont keep you on the edge of your seat any longer. It flushed and the toilet bowl filled with clean looking water. That moment was pure elation it honestly felt like I was a plumbing protégé.

What did I learn from this experience? Only go number 2 in public places where you can depend on better water pressure. There is no way I can deal with the anxiety of a failing toilet again.

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