Today’s Spanish Lesson ¿Dónde está el baño?

18 May

When out and about in the US, one rarely thinks twice about bathrooms, unless you’re at an outdoor venue and forced to use a port-o-potty.

In Japan I once stumbled into a unisex bathroom which was a surprise to say the least.

Japanese Unisex bathrooms contain stalls and urinals.

Japanese Unisex bathrooms contain stalls and urinals.

In the airport bathroom in Istabul there was a sign asking people to please not wash their feet in the sink. International bathrooms are full of cultural experiences.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

You can’t miss this sign at a roadside Mexican restaurant.

Outside a roadside restaurant.

Pull over I gotta go.

Living in Mexico in the 70’s gives me a point of reference for baños. It was so much worse then. Public restrooms were hard to come by and toilet paper, as we know it, was not common (newspaper, comic books). A lesson my grandmother taught me, and every woman in Mexico knows, never leave the house without tissues.

In Bacalar.

In Bacalar.

Today, there are clean functional toilets (most of the time) in Pemex stations where you stop for gas. The trouble is, they charge $3-5 pesos, $.25-.40 per use. It is a clear discrimination against women, since men have no trouble peeing on their tires. I’m not sure what’s up with the whole peeing on the tires thing, but you see it everywhere, pull over and pee on your tires!

Then one day I came across this –

They can't refuse you service.

They can’t refuse you service.

Handing a few coins to the bathroom attendant in the bus station, restaurant, government building, grocery store or hotel is the norm. I figure that I can afford it and it’s a way to circulate money to people who’s income it is. It’s the same for the people that pump your gas, sack your groceries or help you park your car (whether you need it or not).

So when looking for the baño in México, remember to bring your tissue and always have a pocket of change, or you too could find yourself peeing on your tires.


A Favorite Laguna Bacalar Picture

A Favorite Laguna Bacalar Picture

14 Responses to “Today’s Spanish Lesson ¿Dónde está el baño?”

  1. brucekelley May 18, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Good post, Alex, and ain’t that the truth: Whenever you go out the door, here in Mx, you should have a bano strategy for where ever you may be going.


    • afish25 May 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Hey Bruce, do they pee on the tires in PV?


      • brucekelley May 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

        Hahaha, Alex, I have not witnessed that, but have many other “pee” events.


      • afish25 May 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

        Oh the stories we have! Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Nancy Taylor May 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    I want to know more about the peeing on the tires thing! My dogs will do that on walks sometimes and I’ve always found it odd. They at least sniff them – weird!


    • afish25 May 19, 2014 at 7:28 am #

      I need to do some more research Nancy. I’ll get back to you.


  3. gialucy2013 May 30, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I love your account of bathrooms in Mexico and abroad. I was once in Ranch 99, an Asian supermarket in Southern California, where I saw a sign on the wall behind the toilet. It read, “Please do not stand on the toilet seat!” Sometimes you only have to travel within the cultural enclaves of your own town.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 May 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      Thanks for visiting. I think we could travel the world visit the bathrooms.


  4. Karen September 9, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

    Don’t remember anymore which country or which trip, might have been Cancun? Anyway, I think we were in the airport, a very tall American man wearing a cowboy hat was was pretty much yelling (I’ll give you the phonetic version “Don-dee Esta el Ban-o.” Oh dear. He was trying, I suppose, although he appeared like a loud and pushy American. It felt more like he was making fun than genuinely having to pee. At the time I probably remembered a lot more than I do now of my two years of college Spanish.


  5. emilievardaman September 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh, yeah. In Mexico I always have tissue and coins!
    The interstates (at least the ones I drive on) are starting to build restrooms at the coatas, so I stop, use a clean facility that has toilet paper and is free, then climb back in the car and hand my pesos to the person collecting the tolls. In the opposite direction, pay the toll and then use the facilities. I’m loving it! But I still carry TP and change. One never knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. fabiolaofmexico September 25, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    You never know! I always tell my kids to go pee before we go out the door to anywhere, and I also always carry a roll of toilet paper in my tote and a bottle of disinfectant gel wherever we go. These are the sort of habits you pick up in Mexico! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 September 25, 2018 at 5:48 pm #

      Ain’t it the truth! I remember when comic books and newspaper was the only toilet paper available. If you could find a public bathroom.

      Liked by 1 person


  1. Today’s Spanish Lesson ¿Dónde está el baño? | the adventures of dos tortas - September 9, 2018

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