22 August 2012

The Bog Blog


A toilet tour of northern Peru ...



Bog number one:
At El Museo de la Nacion in Lima, the biggest chamber I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world – big enough to hold a small party and appropriate enough for the cavernous building in which it was located. I had tried several other toilets but all were locked or out of service, so I asked the security woman where I could find a toilet and she directed me to this ballroom of bathrooms.



Bog number two:
At the Embajador Hotel in Chiclayo. The toilet with a view – or, more accurately, the toilet where you can be viewed! It’s a high-ceilinged room, with perhaps a 20-foot stud – with windows at the top along one wall, which fronts on to a corridor and a small inner courtyard. The windows are permanently open and so high up that they’re impossible for anyone without a tall ladder to close – not something your average tourist carries in their luggage. Presumably they’re open to allow steam and assorted bathroom-specific smells to escape but this also means that anyone feeling even vaguely perverted in the two rooms overlooking the courtyard can also overlook you at your ablutions – not the most comfortable way to complete the daily necessities of life.


Bog number three:
At Huaca de la Luna, near Trujillo. Is this setting beautiful or what?
Huaca de la Luna, and the nearby Huaca del Sol, are archaeological sites of the Moche, or Mochica, civilisation, dating from about 100 to 800 AD, and they are impressive. Huaca de la Luna is an adobe-brick pyramid-shaped structure that appears to have served a religious and ceremonial religious function. It has beautifully coloured sculptural friezes, including one huge wall panel that is seven registers and perhaps 60 feet tall.

I didn’t actually get to use this toilet, as Sarah and I had enjoyed a very thorough tour of the site with our lovely English-speaking guide Henry, so were holding up the Spanish-speaking group and had to rush back to our tour van. The mountain in the background of this image is called Cerro Blanco, or White Mountain.


Bog number four:
At the toy museum, in Trujillo. The toilet was carefully camouflaged with a wallpapered door to match the surrounding wall, the entrance thereby not distracting from the exhibits which surrounded it: to the left, shelves housing dolls, a wooden mototaxi, and an old half-deflated ball; to the right, a pair of colourful, traditionally dressed Peruvian dolls; and, in the foreground, a cabinet displaying a large collection of toy soldiers from France and England dating from 1920 to 1925.

Bog number five:
At the Colonial Hotel in Trujillo, from the first floor balcony where our room was located. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the toilet itself, but it was a nice hotel, with plain but comfortable rooms, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas. It’s only a block and a half from the city plaza, with a nice café next door for breakfast and other meals, and a tour company on the other side, which had friendly staff and reasonably priced and well run tours. Oh, and the toilet was clean too!


Bog number six:
At the Cruz del Sur bus station in Lima. For some unknown and obviously bizarre reason, the cisterns of the toilets were protected by metal grids, padlocked in place. I couldn’t help but speculate as to why: Peru is plagued by toilet thieves? passengers of Cruz del Sur buses have a penchant for fiddling with the inner workings of the cisterns – a fetish with ballcocks perhaps?

This photo was a little tricky to capture. The gloom of the room meant I needed to use the flash and I couldn’t help but wonder what the service staff thought of a bright flash of light suddenly illuminating the end cubicle: had some alien being beamed down from a galaxy far far away? was the kinky gringa taking a photo of some forbidden fruit to instil longing in a distant lover? I avoided making eye contact with the woman on exiting the cubicle and washed my hands with alacrity in order to avoid any difficult questions.