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TiJei Bathroom Info
By Michael and Daniel Thomas
[Including Best Bathrooms on Revolution Avenue.]
Just the words "Tijuana bathroom" are enough to strike terror into the heart of any gringo. We picture something malodorous, piss-odoriferous, vomit-stained, with disreputable lowlifes snorting lines of crystal meth off the cracked white urinal tops. Ahem, well...
If that's what you want then go drag yourself through
a series of cheap bars and visit their overused and abused restrooms — you just might find something like that.
BUT if You Want A CLEAN RESTROOM with Attendant and Fresh Paper Towels, well, You Can ALSO Find THAT, too. Especially in the nicer restaurants and upscale shops.
SIGNS "letreros" pointing the way have the guy-in-pants gal-in-skirt image, Or SPELL OUT:
BAÑOS = SANITARIOS = W.C. = Bathrooms = Restrooms.
"Toilet" = "Excusado".
CABALLEROS = Gentlemen, HOMBRES=Men.
DAMAS = Ladies, MUJERES = Women.
NOTEZ-VOUS: The word "Baños" is also applied to public bathhouses where you can get a shower, steambath, and sometimes massages (both kinds [wink-wink nudge-nudge saynomore saynomore ej?] SHUT up Dano okay okay but just to warn you yea I know whatever huh)
"In-House" (FREE!) Toilets
As you walk around town enjoying your touristic sport of people-watching and window-shopping on and off of Revolution, Constitution, and Niños Heroes Avenues, you will probably see
many signs on store and restaurant windows saying in effect that the
bathrooms are only for clients.
For this reason, Mike and Dano STRONGLY recommend that
you PLAN TO USE your lunch, breakfast, or dinner hour(s) to make use of the
excellent restroom facilities provided by restaurants like Sanborn's,
or especially, Ricardo's (at 7th & Madero, one block beyond the AM/PM
Minimart at Revolución). When they pay us money for plugging them,
then we will tell you more about their food, which is reasonably priced,
and good. They are also open 24 hours.
"Public" i.e. PAY Toilets
The ethic regarding public bathrooms is considerably different in Mexico. The public restrooms, in parks, in bus
stations, or alongside passageways or sidewalks are usually NOT free.
If you want to use a public restroom, you are expected to pay for the service. Most public restrooms will charge you (in 2004) two or three pesos (Mexico
money) or twenty-five or thirty cents (U.S. money). BUT BE WARNED that
prices are going up in 2004, almost everywhere, to three or four pesos.
Maybe more. Some places even fifty cents.
You pay as you go in. Most bathrooms have attendants
who take your money and offer you paper to wipe with ("papel higenico")
and maybe a paper towel ("toalla") to dry your hands after washing.
It is not uncommon to have a little plastic dish (or cut-off plastic jug-bottom) holding powdered detergent next to the hand-washing sink. That is your soap to clean your hands with. Oh yes.
If the service is particularly helpful, maybe the attendant hands you a paper towel to dry your hands at exactly the right moment, well, you may certainly tip them a peso or two
(dime or quarter) extra as you leave. Remember to wash your hands
(before and after). YES, MOTHER.... (but soooo many men forget....).
Some restrooms have monstrous metal turnstyle gates which accept either one or two-peso
coins, or sometimes U.S. quarters and then emit a horrific BUZZZZZZZZ to let you know you may push ahead (gives a whole new meaning to the Angloamerican expression "buzz me in" eh? Ej. One example of this machination is located in the upstairs
restroom at the big Red Mexicoach Terminal on Revolution Avenue between
5th and 6th.
Normally (except in nicer restaurants and stores) there is NO paper
available in the toilet stall. LADIES: consider carrying little packets
of clean paper in your purses! You get your wiping paper from the
attendant when you pay your coins and go into the restroom. If you use
the paper, DO NOT do not put it in the toilet when you are done. We
repeat: DO NOT PUT YOUR USED TOILET PAPER IN THE TOILET!! Put it into
the little waste can beside the toilet. This is (or so we have heard) because
the plumbing tends to clog up with paper. Repeat repeat REPEAT: NEVER
NEVER Never never flush paper nor tampons nor paper towels nor t.p.
nor ANYTHING at all except organic waste #1 & #2 (or perhaps vomit,
if, after a long night drinking, you find yourself worshipping the
porcelain goddess, as they say).
Okay Mikey, don't like it, eh?
No. But let's get back to business of doing your business, okay?
Okay. Ideally the people who run the bathrooms and charge two or three
pesos (or a quarter) will be the same who clean them. Regardless (no "ir" about it when you gotta go you gotta go) there is and there be
a wide variety of conditions. Many restrooms are reasonably clean, a
very few are excellently clean, and some are rather filthy -- especially
the mensrooms in bars -- I guess we guys have have problems hitting the
target after a few dozen beers and tequilas, eh? Eewwww....
Moreover, since there are very few public bathrooms, those which do exist get
much more usage and get dirtier faster.
Fancier restaurants have the nicer bathrooms. One good reason to stop
for a snack or a meal.
By the way, boys, and men, it is EXTREMELY RUDE and Insulting to do your
business in the street. Don't be another stupid drunk gringo — pay the price — it's only thirty or fifty cents — and you won't have to keep looking over your shoulder for the cops, who (to say the least) frown on public urination. Never mind that the alleys smell like piss. It's from the dogs (don't be one).
If the restroom is clean and/or the attendant is courteous and helpful,
consider leaving a tip — a dime or quarter or peso or two, and a smile and the simple compliment of "gracias" will transform Uncle Sam Americans into even more welcome customers. Tips are very welcome, and hoped for. We already have the power, now let's show the grace. You may spot an
old cigar box or such, sitting in plain sight near the hand-washing sink,
ready for your after-experience moment of relief. Go ahead. You will be rewarded in bathroom heaven — and maybe the attendant will
give you an extra paper towel to better dry your hands.
Inside Sanborns at 8th & Revo (back behind the Pharmacy, on the left of the Books Department) — this restroom has an attendant with a tip box waiting. Go ahead, give him something. The restaurant coffe/shop at Sanborns is typical, the coffee fairly good, the service attentive, the cocktail lounge has music at night, and the store itself offers a variety of everything the middle class tripper could desire. Desperately tempting chocolates. Pleasing selection of books and magazines. Lots of tobacco products. Artesanic souvenirs with set prices give you an idea for how to bargain at other little hole-in-the-wall shops down the avenue or in the artesans' village.
The AM/PM at 7th & Revo. Your typical minimart. Snacks. Tables to sit indoors and munch. (2003: It seems their restrooms are often closed.)
Ricardos restaurant at 7th and Madero (one block east of Revolution beyond the AM/PM) really nice experience, recently remodeled. Good food, reasonable prices, beer/wine, very popular spot with professional Mexican people who work around downtown or in the river zone. OPEN 24 Hours! Definitely a Family Atmosphere but cool hangout too. Nice booth seats all along the windows.
PAY BATHROOMS on or near Revolution Avenue:
Upstairs inside the red Mexicoach building between sixth and seventh
(or is it fifth and sixth?).
In the passageway leading to Peanuts&Beer and the Foreign Book between
3rd and 4th. The bathrooms are behind the Aztec Calendar stone.
Deep within the Popo Market by the corner of Niños Heroes kitty-corner from the Cathedral. The bathrooms are near the "old" Cinelandia 2000 movie house, on the left behind the taco stand. (There is also a horrifically stinky restroom in the theater FYI.)
PAY BATHROOMS near the San Ysidro border gate (Puerta Mexico):
In the island of tacos, beside the sea of taxis, there is a pay bathroom sandwiched between the Caliente betting salon (el foreign book) and the row of taco stands (there are goooooooood tacos here and you can watch the grungy gringo gamblers drop in for a snack between their horse-race addiction fixes). These bathrooms are heavily used, but, gracias a Dios (thank God), regularly cleaned. Thirty or thirty-five cents a pop. In the gate behind the little iron fence.
Don't forget: Restaurants and some shops (like the fancy department stores)
will have bathrooms, and there are some hidden away (pay or otherwise)
in some of the shopping arcades. Often, if they are free bathrooms,
then they are for "clients only," so be polite and buy something.
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Copyright 2001-2005 Daniel Charles Thomas
last update: 8:30 AM 7/8/05