Adrian Monk, fictional San Francisco detective with severe OCD, had my deepest sympathies while I was in Baja. Oh, I loved being there, but the public toilet facilities in Mexico – at least in that part – lack things like cleanliness and toilet paper.

I often found myself wishing for wipes, before entering rooms. Not that the bathrooms at LAX were much better, but in La Paz, the local custom is to put used toilet paper, not in the toilet for flushing, but in the wastebasket.

Even in Dorian’s, which isn’t a cheap store (I mean, you walk in and there’s a Clinique counter – it’s a traditional department store), the bathrooms were scary. They probably did have toilet paper (unused) when they opened, but at three it was clear that no one bothered to check their status.

They have a guy at each Caja (cashier’s desk) whose whole job is stapling bags, but no one to empty the overflowing mass of used bathroom tissue or put fresh rolls in the dispensers.

And then there was the scary bathroom at the car park. “Esta limpa?” my mother asked. “Is it clean?” The guy at the desk nodded yes. “Hay papel?” He handed her a roll of toilet paper.

We opened the door to find a disgusting urinal, and off in a cement closet with no floor and no light, a toilet that was only clean if you compared it to, oh, say, the ruins of Pompeii.

Or maybe those were cleaner.

I’m not easily squicked, really, but after that bathroom (which we both refused to use) I totally sided with Mr. Monk.


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