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Mexico Bathroom Tips for Tourists
Want to hear a secret? You have to pay to use the bathroom in Mexico. Maybe, like me, you're shocked, or maybe you're from the old school days when the bathrooms at the mall were 10 cents. Either way, tourists need to be prepared. Ready to hear it straight?
Bathrooms in the airport, most restaurants, museums, gas stations and other tourist attractions can pretty much be excepted. So if you avoid plebian areas, you could probably stop reading now. However, do be ready to tip the attendant who hands you your paper towel- they're pretty common.
Now, I like to consider myself one of those "off the beaten path" travelers, and sometimes there's just no better "adventure" than a public bathroom. So here's the lowdown:
If you approach a bathroom (aka a baño, sanitario or WC) in a plaza, large shopping center, craft market, concert venue, or off of a city street, be ready to pay. Generally you will find an attendant or two at the entrance. Sometimes they are doling out toilet paper, so there's your hint. Otherwise there's often a sign or etc. The charge is usually about 2 pesos (20 cents), and after handing to the attendant, you'll be granted a couple squares, and sometimes a sliver of soap. I've know many many women to carry extra squares in their purse, and picked up the habit myself.
In some areas, such as a public restroom we encountered in the artisan city of Quiroga, automated turnstiles are present, and you have to slip a peso or two into a coin slot.
Another interesting aspect of the bathroom experience is the lack of facilities that we take for granted in the U.S. For example, I never did encounter liquid soap nor paper towels during my last trip. Sometimes a bowl of granular soap was present, and honestly, I miss that stuff. It was kind of cool.
Another little thing I encountered recently- the lack of seats. Seems like everywhere I went in the countryside, someone had come along before me and swiped all the women's seats. Hope you have strong hamstrings.
Oh, and when you're ready to wash your hands, you may have to wander out of the women's/men's room and share the one sink outside the bathroom with others.
Hopefully I've saved you some of the surprises a first time tourist may encounter when visiting some of the more "authentic" parts of Mexico. Sometimes these kinds of differences make for the best stories later.