Don't Flip Your Lid Over Missing Toilet Seats in Peru
In 2007 when I began traveling in Peru and South America, I noticed that many toilets outside the hotels, did not have seats. I found this to be pretty common all over Peru and other places. For women, especially older women, this can be not just an annoyance but a potential for health problems. I've known some women who will "hold it" until they get to their hotel!
As soon as we women leave the comfort of our hotels, all of which I'm happy to report, maintain the standard bowl with a hinged seat, if not an additional hinged lid, we have to be prepared for what I call "naked toilet bowls." This is a bowl full of water with a wide rim high enough to sit on but without a seat or cover of any kind. There seems to be a universal custom to have seats on toilets for sanitary reasons, and for the comfort of the members of the gender who need to sit when they powder their noses. This discussion excludes squat toilets found in many asian and middle eastern countries.
Before you go calling me a sissy, let me tell you I have no problem squatting in the woods and have taken liberties to relieve myself in the most rustic of conditions imaginable. But I can't help thinking that if you're going to provide a toilet, why not include a seat? Don't they kind of go hand in hand?
I could never figure out why there are so many naked toilets in Peru. We all know to be prepared with our own supply of toilet paper but most people don't travel with a personal toilet seat. Wax paper seat covers don't cut it. Just trust me.
I've seen naked toilets all over the country including Cusco, Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and in southern Peru. Do local women not notice the lack of seats? Do they care? Recently I found a folding toilet seat for adults. Here's the link in case you are curious.
Here's why there are so many toilets without seats in Peru.
While talking to Vidal I recently found out why there are so many toilets without seats. Vidal told me he was in Lima where he went to a hardware store to buy some things for his house including a replacement seat for his family toilet. He couldn't find them and continued looking. Eventually he discovered that toilet seats in Peru are not sold individually. Even he thought he could buy a replacement seat for a toilet. But no you can't. The only way to get a toilet seat is to buy a toilet with it! This explains so much. In one place he found a toilet seat for sale but it cost more than an entire new toilet.
Apparently seats are only sold with toilet bowls. And if something happens to the seat, then your only option is to continue using the naked bowl or replace the entire toilet.
Do the restrooms at Machu Picchu have toilet seats?
Yes they are fitted with seats. But don't be surprised if you find a stall where a seat is missing!
Of course, I don't have an explanation for why toilet seats can't be purchased individually. I'll save that story for another day.