“Bathroom of the week” was one of the first feature ideas I had for this blog. What does that say about me? Don’t answer that, please. I find bathrooms fascinating in their diversity of structure, design, and contents, and relevant in every regard, particularly while traveling. I had an epidemiology professor at Oregon Health and Science University, named Maria Sistrom, who said: “the way we think about diarrhea is a reflection of our culture”.
I think this concept could be extended to bathrooms in general. While their presence unifies humankind, their differences illustrate cultural, social, economic, and even religious dissimilarities between peoples. The bathroom is also a place in which many travelers spend a lot of time. I expect this topic to become ever more captivating as we progress with our travels. According to a Current TV documentary, “The World’s Toilet Crisis”, a quarter of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet, and thus employs alternative environments to serve as restrooms. This practice, while necessary for many, is a major contributor to the spread of disease, particularly in the tropics, and thus, should be curtailed by increased quantity and quality of bathrooms. Viewed in this light, we should think of each bathroom we enter as an effort to improve the health of humanity, and thus, a blessing.
This week’s featured bathroom is that of the Hostal El Abuelito in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. It is the most beautiful, soothing, and pleasant hostel bathroom I have ever encountered. I found it to contain all of the essentials: cleanliness, toilet paper, a waste basket for the used toilet paper (most Mexican plumbing is not equipped to handle toilet paper flushed down the toilet), soap, and a sink, as well as a few luxuries: a toilet seat, water in the bowl, a shower with both hot and cold water and firm water pressure, and a humorous note. You’ll find Harold and our new friend Hiroki pictured below, enjoying the use of the sink. The fresh flowers are a true rarity in the world of bathrooms. I would give this bathroom a five-star rating (out of five).