A few days before returning to The States, I had gone out for fish sandwiches with one of my friends in Istanbul. I went to wash my hands and came back saying, “I’ll never understand why Turkish restrooms are so dirty.” There is almost always water on the floor, so the dirt from your shoes leaves muddy footprints.
They say one of the best ways to combat jetlag is to drink lots of water during your flight. I did. I drank LOTS of water. So naturally, before proceeding through passport control at Chicago O’hare, I had to use the toilet.
Four things struck me immediately:
1) The restroom was not as clean as I had expected it to be.
What’s up, America? This is how you welcome your international guests? Why was I bashing on Turkish restrooms? No muddy footprints, but definitely not clean.
2) Why are there such a big gaps between the door and the wall?
There’s no privacy at all. I felt like I should just invite the next person in line to stand next to me while I peed.
3) No squatty potties? Only thrones? Excellent!
It wasn’t until a desperate situation in summer 2014 that I finally used a squatty potty in Italy, and had success on my first try! I mean, it’s really not that bad… Unless your iPhone 4 happens to fall out of your back pocket and into the squatty potty… I hate to admit that I’ve done that… Istanbul 2014… Rescuing a phone from a squatty potty is a nightmare. Imagine laying on the ground and reaching down a pipe till nearly your shoulder. I’ve been scarred for life… Anyway, I digress…
I’ll use a squatty if I have to, and there’s definitely something to be said for the sanitation benefits, and they say it’s better for your body, but it was nice to return to the comforts of home. I didn’t have to hunt for a place with thrones and I didn’t have to wait in line for the one stall with a throne available.
For more information on squatty potties, read this awesome blog entry.
4) There’s toilet paper! And I can flush the paper down the toilet?
There’s always toilet paper in America! Maybe I shouldn’t say always, but the risk of being without toilet paper in the USA is far less than when in Turkey. In Istanbul, and definitely in Egypt, I always carried wet wipes with me when I go out. You just never know what the toilet paper situation is going to be. Believe me; you won’t regret carrying them around with you.
I always flush the toilet paper down the toilet at my apartment and at school. Maybe I’m not supposed to… Everywhere else that I go I see signs that request that the paper goes in the bin.
Now that I’ve been home a couple weeks, I’ve caught myself wondering one more thing: Where’s the Turkish bidet?
In Italy, there is the toilet and then a separate bidet to wash your rump. In Turkey, the bidet is part of the toilet. Seems more practical to me. I discussed this at great length with a Turkish friend once. He said he didn’t feel clean without the bidet. I said I didn’t feel clean without toilet paper. It took me awhile before I was brave enough to give it a go, but I gotta say, I can get behind the idea. He was right. Now it feels strange that I don’t have that option.
Seems like a lot of thinking, reflecting, and comparing for just a visit to the toilet, am I right?