Joao Pessoa


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Le Petit Paradis Pousada in Joao Pessoa

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The Loo

April 27th, 2009

When I first came to Brasil in the early 90s, the disposing of toilet paper in a bin rather than down the pan was very new to me and took some getting used to, particularly the origami involved. But it was to prove more of a challenge to one of my friends who accompanied me one year. I had warned her it wasn’t Butlins holiday camp, but she was very gung-ho about it so off we went.

I had, by then, got used to the favela environment, would she?

We put her up in Dona Fatima’s house, one of the church officials, simple but pleasant and clean ( that’s the house not Dona Fatima).

A few days later, in church, I enquired of Dona Fatima as to how Jane (my friend) was getting on. “Fine” she replied, “but she doesn’t use the toilet bin!” There now followed the delicate task of explaining to Jane that she couldn’t put toilet paper down the pan, but would have to put it in the bin.

toilet1That evening, I climbed the mountain that is task and diplomacy and explained to her about not putting the paper down the pan, it blocked the pipes, the pipes were too small etc. You could have felled England’s forwards with the look she gave me. Twas to be but she wasn’t going to say so.

A few days later, on my way to see Jane, I happened upon an unfortunate soul, knee deep in one of the drainage trenches that ran down both sides of the road. He was prodding a length of bamboo up a pipe towards Dona Fatima’s house.

When Jane came out to see me, she saw the man and asked what he was doing. “Let’s see” says I and as we supped a coke by the side of the road, we watched the man clear out the pipe. Suddenly, a multi-coloured, toilet paper mush spewed forth into the trench along with some other unmentionables. It then flowed off towards the river for all to see, chased and poked by small boys with sticks.

She paid the man R$25 and the Loo was never blocked after that.


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