Toilet Paper Whoas

(The title of this post is 100% plagiarized from an email from my big brother, John.)

For some reason, I seem to have a lot of conversations about:

-using the washroom in developing countries

-(not) using toilet paper in developing countries

-squatty potties

-falling into sewage

I would like to think that everyone experiences this phenomenon. (If this is not the case, don’t burst my bubble.) On a related note, two things happened this week.

1. I received the following email from my brother who is currently living in Ecuador:

Hi Amelia, Have you ever had to put a coin into a Toilet paper dispenser? I know humans commonly dispense [it] in India, but even there, is it objectively rationed as a machine might? If so, do you have any recollection of how many squares come in a portion? There’s a blog topic swirling around my mind…is thurs. good for you to talk?

A blog topic swirling around in his mind–BAHAHA! Now you see where I get my creative genius and stunning wit.

Apparently, John had to purchase a package of toilet paper (for $1 USD).

Toilet paper packages, finger shown for scale

The contents of a dispensed toilet paper package: 12 squares.

John, as much as we feel for you and would strongly advise you to invest in a whole entire roll, we have one very important question: which direction do the toilets flush? Does it vary within the country depending on which side of the Equator you’re on? Please advise.

2. The second thing that happened was that we had our first small group/home church/Bible study of the year. For a warm-up, Varun and I decided to play Two Truths and A Lie, just to keep things holy. Here’s what I wrote:

-I have eaten rattlesnake

-I have fallen into sewage

-I have met Obama

Apparently, this caused serious confusion. Some people didn’t think I was brave enough to eat rattlesnake. Some people felt it unlikely that I’ve met Obama. And then there was my lovely friend C, who happily proclaimed, “But guys, think about it! If any of my friends is likely to have fallen in poo, it’s Amelia. She’s like a magnet to awful situations!”

Ummm…thanks? I struggled to keep a straight face as I laughed on the inside.

C was right: I am a bit of a catastrophe magnet, and I have fallen into poo. Like, submerged in it.


On to more polite conversation: have you ever had toilet paper rationed? If so, what was the given amount? Have you ever used a toilet paper dispenser? How much did it cost?

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth (@bethaf)
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 10:33:27

    I’ve learned to carry my own TP in a ziploc bag (you take the cardboard centre out, and it squishes fairly f lat) when traveling in developing countries…then I don’t need to worry about the quantity (or quality) I will be given. Is that rude/weird?

    Also, you don’t dish; have you eaten rattlesnake or met Obama?? WHICH IS THE LIE!?


    • Amelia
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 12:32:45

      Oh, I’ve eaten rattlesnake. Nasty, nasty stuff: it was tough, served in a coiled snake shape and tasted like fish. As soon as I ate it, I was paralyzed by the fact that there was a snake IN my stomach.


  2. Peter Scholtens
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 11:31:30

    Reminds me of a line of graffiti in a pay toilet:
    Here I sit, brokenhearted
    Paid my dime and only…


  3. John Rafferty
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 17:36:11

    I hate to correct your stories, but just so people don’t go thinking that Ecuador is an expensive country. Those 12 squares cost me 10 cents. Which is somewhat more annoying, because I think the average person (and certainly the average Ecuadorian) is more likely to have a dollar on them, than a dime. In this particular situation, a change machine nearby would have been very much appreciated. So glad that parking lot attendant, with change, was on the other side of the shopping mall. I thin Beth may be on to something…


  4. Aban
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 18:55:51

    Umm. I was 5 or 6. It was the monsoon seasons. One minute mom was holding a little hand and an umbrella, the next, just an umbrella. I fell into a gutter.

    Moms first question? : DID YOU DRINK ANY WATER??

    She marches me home w/o holding my hand.

    Fun times.


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