Bridgie's Babble - March 2008
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Buses, Bladders and Banos (a.k.a. Bathrooms)

I’m an expert on this subject.  Experience and practice during our recent trip from Zihuatanejo to
Chiapas, 900 + miles each way on luxury Mexican bus lines makes me one.

Each bus has 1 toilet. They are always located at the rear of the bus.  Mistake number 1. If you’re
inclined to need to use the facilities often, don’t reserve the seats at the front of the bus.  It’s very
nice to  have a great view of the scenery but at what cost? The aisles are very narrow. The digital
sign that flashes along the top windshield above the driver’s head always says “w.c. occupado”
whether it is or not. That’s if the sign works at all. You ask the people sitting in the general area of
the bano  if they think someone might be using the facilities. They shrug their shoulders. Could I really
expect them to have noticed such activity? The only way to find out is to go to the bathroom door  
and, using both hands yank really, really hard . The latches are made of some super duty material so
they won’t accidentally open during transit. When it finally opens, if nobody is sitting in there, well,  it’
s obviously not occupied.

Unless you’re on the Pan American Highway, plan for winding roads with lots of bumps, curves and
hills. Generally there is one lane going each way. Buses are trying to keep to a schedule so the driver’
s are expert at passing slower traffic in every situation. (this, by the way, is another reason not to sit
in the front seat unless you’re wanting a visual thrill ride).

So, you have to use the bano. You know it’s not going to be easy. You have to make your way
gracefully down the narrow isle while being swayed left and then right as the bus maneuvers on the
road. Hurling yourself into some strangers lap is not part of the plan. It’s simply not polite. What can
you do to reduce the visits? Here’s what I came up with (and I don’t recommend it …see why)

First of all, don’t drink ANYTHING before or during the passage.  This is a time when dehydration
is best. Forget that coffee, water or soda. Suck on hard candy or something to keep the mouth moist.

I “hold it” until I really have to go. Then carefully I make my way down the aisle, open the door,
close and lock it behind me. Since I’ve “held it” so long, I now find myself in the small cubicle with
my legs crossed to prevent premature leakage (training from childhood that worked back then). I  
have an obstacle to overcome now. Which do I do first? Should I pull down my pants or figure out
how to lower the spring loaded toilet seat that is always in the up position. (
why is that, for god’s
sake
?!).  If I put the seat down, I only have one hand to unzip and pull the pants down. (Remember,
my legs are crossed) It’s not as though the seat will stay in the down position…I have to hold it
there. Obviously, the only option is to get the pants down (only to the knees….the floor is wet) and
twist at the waist in an attempt to lower the seat. No, of course I’m not going to sit on it but it would
be nice to hover over something! Step 1 is complete. Hovering in place, I will my bladder to work.
No dice! It has gone into sleep mode, confused by my mental commands and delays. But I really
have to go! Finally, the bladder and I come to an understanding. Phew! That feels much better.

Meanwhile, the bus is taking on those curves and bumps like a real champ.  The driver applies the
brakes with a frequency that makes this 'the ride of a lifetime'. Suddenly I’m tossed against the door.
It springs open and I am thrown across the aisle to the (thank goodness) empty seat across the way.  
Do you think anybody noticed? I collect myself and go back into the bano to complete my business.
I feel like a stunt woman in a Hollywood movie!

The toilet paper goes in the bin, forward of the seat. In theory, you depress the pedal with your foot
and it should open. But it’s jammed. Well, into the toilet the paper must go. Oops! The switch to
flush is not operating today. Oh, well!  Now all that needs to be done is reversal of the procedure…..
bring the pants up, wash the hands and wobble down the aisle.

What a project these trips turn out to be.  I’m open to suggestions for future travel and haven’t ruled
out those adult diapers as one option! I’ll do another segment on bus travel in the next babble.
One of many first class buses with banos.
Local city bus without banos.
You may want to carry fragile possessions on-board