So what constitutes a good or bad toilet. There are a number of factors that score to make up the ranking. Cleanliness is always one factor, and this can be variable from filthy to, very occasionally, absolutely spotless. But there is also the quality aspect. In this the requirements for each ranking are roughly as follows. If there is a toilet that can be sat on or hovered over, but there is no way of flushing at all then it is a zero. If the toilet actually flushes, or can be adequately flushed through means of a bucket of water, then it rises to a one. A toilet seat and water for washing hands raises it to a two. Loo roll and soap bring it to a three, and adding something to dry your hands on raises it right up to a four.
|Toilets that didn't even score a zero|
The look of the toilet can add a half point too, so the ones we stopped at after leaving the coffee plantation for example had all of the above requirements, were spotless,and had nice tiles and flooring etc, so they were graded a four and a half. High praise indeed.
There is a suggested further option of five star, which is when you can flush the toilet paper down the loo, but as the last time we could do that was in Buenos Aires, that doesn't really seem a fair test.
Of course in some places, mostly the north of Argentina and southern Bolivia there simply isn't a toilet to be found along the road, or maybe there was but it was a zero that no one wanted to use, so it was finding a convenience place to go by the road. This was easier for the guys, but the girls would normally want some cover, usually a bush or a ditch, that they could squat behind. Mostly this could be arranged, but occasionally there was absolutely no cover. Those times the truck was brought into play, and girls used the kerb side, to provide some cover from the passing traffic, while the boys went across the road.
The toilet standards question doesn't just apply on the road of course, as the loos in hotels, restaurants and bars can be just as questionable, but generally the standard is better, with mostly twos or threes. Where there is a real problem, it is often because some tourist doesn't know how it works and blocks the toilet by flushing the paper, or doesn't know that the big vat of water with a scooping bucket is used to flush the loo. That can get nasty and is best avoided at all costs!
But overall, I have been pleasantly surprised, and it is always nice when you pull up at a manky looking petrol station, expecting a toilet in the one or even zero category, to find that in fact it is a three. There is nothing like long term travel to help you appreciate these little things in life!