Back when I lived in a Mexican city called Pachuca, I remember having a particular incident involving used toilet paper.
Now what drama could a gringo find himself in regarding shit paper in Latin America?
Well, to my annoyance, the apartment came with a cleaning lady.
God fucking damn it.
Someone to interrupt my day and do shit I don’t want them to?
Well, to be fair, despite hate having a cleaning lady in Latin America, this lady (like all of them) was very nice.
Some sweet old lady who looks like she should’ve been in retirement 25 years ago that was just doing a simple job to pay the bills.
Can’t hate her, right?
Hate the culture that demands you have someone like her invading your house against your will every week.
But I digress!
Anyway, as I said, she was a nice woman nonetheless.
And, about two weeks or so into living there, the landlord wanted to have a very brief conversation with me.
It mostly focused on how I was doing and if I had any issues with the place.
No issues at all!
Well, she had a minor issue about my behavior in the place.
Nothing major though.
But she was told by the cleaning lady that I’ve been leaving the toilet paper in the bathroom trashcan.
Guilty as charged!
I sure was.
Because, during my years in Latin America, that’s been the norm!
The only place I’ve been to, up until that point, where toilet paper wasn’t required to be put into the trashcan was when I lived in Buenos Aires of Argentina.
Outside of that?
It always went into the trashcan.
I’d often see signs saying that I need to put the toilet paper into the trashcan in public bathrooms.
Which, as a side point, I remember Bolivia having a funny word for either toilet or toilet paper.
I forgot which one but I remember one day, while shitting in a bathroom of a hotel in La Paz, where there was a sign in front of me.
It said something to the effect of “throw your toilet paper into the trashcan” but the word they used for either toilet or toilet paper was some fucked up looking word.
Something like “ksyhrtnvfod” or whatever the fuck it was.
In Latin America, you sometimes see the occasional word for a town or something that obviously doesn’t look like it came from the Spanish language.
Anyway, going back to Maria, she wanted me to no longer throw the toilet paper into the trashcan.
No complaints on my end.
But she felt a tiny bit insecure about the topic.
It’s been like 2 years or so since the conversation so I’ll paraphrase roughly what she said.
It was something to the equivalent of “in Mexico, we throw the toilet paper into the trashcan.”
Now, to be fair, she wasn’t trying to be a jackass about it.
She wasn’t implying that “Mexico is superior and throws the toilet paper in the toilet unlike the US.”
Overall, she was a very nice person and arguably one of my best landlords I had in all of Mexico.
Very likeable personality.
I also wouldn’t have minded titty fucking her either but only in my wildest dreams, I suppose…
Nonetheless, the tone of her voice in saying what she did gave a certain sentiment not too uncommon some among Latin Americans.
Where, in that moment, it felt like she thought that I considered Mexico to be “too third world” and that’s why I put the toilet paper into the trashcan.
When, as I explained to her, I simply assumed that’s what I was supposed to do given my years in Mexico have taught me otherwise.
Where 99% of the places I have been to have required putting the toilet paper in the trashcan.
Even in Mexico City!
Which, as a side point, is not something I judge Latin America for entirely.
OK – I did a little bit in this article here.
But it really doesn’t bother me and I’m used to it.
When I’m back in the US, I catch myself almost putting the toilet paper in the trashcan up there because I’m so used to people requiring it that way down here.
And, when Maria told me that “in Mexico, we don’t do that,” I obviously was confused.
In all of my time in Mexico and in Latin America, it’s always been like that outside of a few specific places.
In hindsight and in the moment, there were only a few things that I could’ve concluded from her comment that day.
Sheltered From a Life of Inefficient Toilets
First, it should be said that Maria was a more comfortable Mexican.
She had spent years in Italy and travelled the world.
She and her husband owned numerous apartments around Mexico.
They were comfortable.
Were they always comfortable since childhood?
I don’t know.
But they weren’t poor when I knew them.
As a potential theory for why Maria said what she did, it could be the case that Maria always knew a life of comfort in Mexico.
Maybe the home of her parents growing up allowed the toilet paper to be thrown into the toilet.
And the nicer apartments her parents funded when she left the home in her early 20s allowed it also.
Some travelling around Italy might’ve cemented to her even more how normal it is to put the toilet paper into the toilet.
Finally, getting her own apartments to own that allowed that practice might’ve made her believe that this is the norm in Mexico also.
Granted, I’m entirely speculating here.
I have no idea how comfortable her life was growing up until the day I knew her.
And, if we’re being honest, it sounds weird to me, even for a more comfortable Mexican, to not know the reality of most of Mexico and how most folks do put the toilet paper into the trashcan.
How would you not notice that?
But there’s another thing to mention too that sounds more plausible to me.
Denying the Third World Characteristics
Just the other day, I went to take a piss in the bathroom in my apartment.
As I walked over to the bathroom, I noticed this sign here on the door and it reminded me of Maria.
The sign basically saying to not put the toilet paper into the toilet.
But wait a second!!!
I thought Maria told me that this doesn’t happen in Mexico?!?
What the fuck, Maria!!!
You lying big tittied bitch that I’d like to creampie.
Why the lies?!!?
Given the tone of what Maria was trying to convey to me that day, I feel the explanation for what she said can be broken down into two points beyond any speculation of her childhood.
First, it was true that her toilets allowed toilet paper to be flushed. Just to be fair.
Second, the tone in what Maria said that day about how “in Mexico, we flush the toilet paper” and how “our toilets work like elsewhere” reflects a insecurity you find among some Mexicans and Latin Americans more broadly.
This insecurity tied to the perception that all foreigners think of your country as a third world shithole.
Of course, words like these below here don’t help extinguish that insecurity.
VOX POP: How do people from El Salvador react to Trump's "shithole" remark?
Nonetheless, you got Latinos like that who, in my experience, will interpret LTIERALLY everything you say as somehow offending their country from a higher-than-thou perspective.
If you were to say to one of these types about “how nice the sky in Colombia today,” said Colombian who is THAT insecure would respond with “OF COURSE IT LOOKS NICE!! WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?!?! A SKY FULL OF HELICOPTERS SMUGGLING COCAINE TO THE US?!?!”
Like no bitch shut the fuck up – I only said the sky looks nice today. Chill.
These types will respond this way to anything you say for two reasons from what I can think of right now.
First, some don’t actually suffer too much from insecurity and just want to judge you by putting words into your mouth and making assumptions about what you mean based on whatever you said.
This behavior is more common though among upper class Latinos in my experience.
Second, you have those who truly are insecure as I said and truly do interpret every single god damn thing you say as somehow implying something negative about the country.
The “sky is nice today” example above is exaggerated for effect obviously but the point is the same.
It does feel like that with some of these folks who respond as such.
And while Maria wasn’t known to be overly insecure like that, her comments that day about toilets in Mexico always taking toilet paper and “being like toilets elsewhere” reflected a sentiment similar to what I’m talking about.
What did she mean by “similar to toilets elsewhere?”
Elsewhere like “the first world?”
Well, Maria, let me say this – your country is great. I’ve spent years here. It’s awesome. But every country has negatives. One of which is that you are full of used toilet paper if you think toilet paper is commonly flushed in your country. It isn’t in my experience. Some places allow it, many don’t. Just how it is.
Anyway, this article isn’t really about fact checking Maria’s claim that toilets in Mexico always flush toilet paper but more to provide an example (among others noted on my website) about Latin Americans coming across as insecure as mentioned before and how they respond subsequently to whatever they say.
Their insecurity, to be fair, coming from how their countries are portrayed internationally.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.