As promised, today's blog is about something I never thought I'd worry much about, but once I started traveling, this one item became very important to me. I'm not talking about passports, or suitcases or even a hairdryer that works on both 110 and 220 voltage.
I'm talking about toilet seats.
That's right, toilet seats. They are something we all take for granted, but I've found many places just don't see the need for them. At least not like we Americans do.
The first time I encountered non-seated toilets, I was in Malaysia, in one of the smaller villages, and the bathroom was, to say the least, primitive. And I thought, in my sublime ignorance, it was just because I was in an area that wasn't very developed.
So imagine my surprise when I happened to wander into a McDonalds in Germany and found that the only toilet with a seat on it was the handicapped one! But since it was just one bathroom, I still didn't believe it was the norm.
So fast-forward to Brazil. We'd been there almost two weeks before I needed to use a toilet outside the hotel. We were in one of the parks in Sao Paulo, and I went into the bathroom to take care of business. And there it wasn't...
I stared around in disbelief. Not a toilet seat in the house. And I checked. One stall after another, I went through them all. I finally did my thing, balancing precariously on the edge of the bowl, wondering how on earth the rest of the population did it. Did all the grannies bring their own portable seat? One that folded up and could be stored in a over-sized purse? Believe me, after almost a year here, if I could find one, I'd do it too!
And so it went. Almost every place I've been to in Brazil is like that. Some restaurants and privately owned buildings have seats on their toilets, but not many. Museums, parks, tourist attractions, you name it...not a seat to be sat on at all.
I don't get it. Why? I thought at first the public ones had been damaged...you know, vandalized, but nope. That's just the way they have their toilets.
But they're so damn uncomfortable that way. So why don't they have seats?
So I pondered and pondered until my ponderer was sore, and it wasn't until I was shopping downtown and happened to wander by one of their all-in-one stores that I discovered what could be the answer.
Back in the hardware part of the store, I turned into an aisle and stopped dead, my mouth dropping open in shock. There they were....a plethora of them, like a beautiful rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes. Dozens upon dozens of...
And then it all became clear.
When they sell their toilets, whether it be for a public place or a private home, the seats are considered optional--the toilets come without them. And if you want a seat, you chose the color and the shape and buy it separately. Heck, you can even buy the puffy, soft kind or one with a built in heater so your bum will stay warm in the winter.
But it seems most of those buying toilets in Brazil don't care about soft warm seats. They want just the basic toilet and to them basic means no seats of any kind. Really? Seriously?
Though I guess if that's the way you were raised...if you knew nothing different, then it wouldn't really be weird at all. But for those of us who are still figuring out how NOT to fall into the commode when we sit down, we'll take any kind of toilet seat, even one we have to carry around ourselves. So now my ponderer is pondering...
Does anyone out there really make portable toilet seats?
That's if for this week. I'll be back next week with something else to rant about!
Hugs to all,