Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt

Mexican Plumbing

Mexican Plumbing2


One of my very first challenges after moving to Mexico was the bathroom. No just not the question of flush or not-to-flush, it was the water faucet. I mistook the “C” faucet for cold water, and received a nice little burn. Yes, I learn the hard way. Now I know the “F” is for frio, which means cold. And the “C” is for caliente, which of course means hot. After living here for a while now, and having had the opportunity to visit many different baños, I find challenges in so many of them. 

In many places, only one of the washbasin faucets is actually functioning. Usually the cold water is the one that works. Remember, “F”= cold.  I’ve found bathrooms the size of telephone booths and some the size of the master bedrooms.  I’ve seen toilets that bring new meaning to the word “throne.”  There was one where I had to walk up stairs to get to the landing where the toilet was and I’ve seen toilets crammed into corners so tight that one needed to sit side-ways.

Of course, after one has negotiated the way to the bathroom, it is best to check to make sure there is toilet paper before using the facility. I admit being surprised that one had to pay for toilet paper at some public facilities, or pay for the toilet itself.  I remember one night jumping from one foot to another digging in my purse trying to find a 2 peso coin to put in the slot at a gas station restroom. Now when I travel, I make sure I have 2 pesos coins, toilet paper and a Ziploc plastic bag in the car in case there are no wastebaskets.

To flush or not to flush?  That is the question.  You must remember where you are.  We have plumbing that dates back hundreds of years. Unless there is a sign telling you it is OK to flush, put the TP in the wastebasket!

OK, that unpleasantness aside. Could someone please tell me why, in a nation of people who are mostly of short stature, that the showerheads are mounted at about 6 feet?  I need a step stool in order to adjust my showerhead.  I’ve lived in four homes in 10 years, and they all had shower heads that were mounted very high.

Mirrors? I confess to hating mirrors.  In our guest bathroom, the mirror is mounted so high that I can only see the very tip of my head reflected in the mirror.  Our maid sits on the counter, and then gets on her knees in order to clean the mirror.  (Which is more than I would do!)

And what about doors? I saw one house where you walked through a doorway, and walked down a spiral tile staircase to reach the bathroom. No doors.  Our master bedroom has an attached bathroom with no door… and no shower door. There is a beautiful archway into the bathroom, and another archway leading into the shower, which by the way is so large an entire family could shower at the same time. However, our guest bathroom has a door on the shower.  Of course, that shower is so small that one has to walk all the way into the shower and flatten their body against the wall in order to shut the door. 

I joke a lot, but the ingenuity used in some of these bathrooms is astounding. But one of the most important things I’ve learned is to cover the floor drains and keep the sink drains closed to keep out those nasty creepy crawlers!


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