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
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. 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.