Sunday, January 28, 2018

Toilet tips

Toilet keys spotted on a bar counter in Valle Gran Rey on an Irish beer mat: The screw is for the gents...
In many bars and restaurants all over La Gomera the toilet doors are mostly locked and if you need to go, you need to go...up to the counter and ask politely for the key for los servicios in order to relieve yourself. Once you're finished, you'll be expected to switch off the lights again and after locking up to return the key.
The whole procedure is due to the fact that generally toilets in bars and restaurants are for customers only and often a sign is displayed pointing this out. However, due to the fact that public toilets are almost non-existent on La Gomera  (except in the port terminal buildings of San Sebastian and Valle Gran Rey, the capital's municipal market, and the vistor's centre above Agulo - all during opening hours only), many bars and restaurants will oblige and let you use their facilities if asked politely, without you having to burden your digestive system further. Hence the toilets are locked to make sure that you take over responsibility for their condition once you've been given the keys. The lights are generally off to save energy, so you're expected to use the switch twice. It is a nice gesture to leave a small tip for the use of the toilets before leaving, as in some busy locations there's a steady stream of toilet users who're not customers and a lot of scarce water, as well as toilet paper and soap, can be used up in a day, and regular cleaning must be done by staff...
While I'm at it: Generally do not throw any paper or any other waste into the toilet bowl as this often leads to blockages in the system here. There is a bucket or bin provided where ALL associated waste should go. Only in a few newer toilets where no such container is provided can you flush down your used toilet paper.
And, unless you want to get angry looks or a straight refusal, please do not enter bars and restaurants bare-chested or in skimpy swimming gear. Cover up a bit. When coming from a beach, do remember to remove any sand and to dry yourself before entering.
Let's hope that public toilets will be provided in many locations on La Gomera someday soon. The situation during the many fiestas, during the upcoming carnival time, etc., can be quite disgusting when even entrances to shops and homes are  sometimes used as toilets, not to mention walls and beaches. Many of the popular hiking routes do not need any more 'human fertilizer' and associated litter either...

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