Thursday, July 14, 2011

To Pee or not to Pee...

To pee or not to pee.  During San Fermin, that is the question.

At least it is for women.  Guys have it easy, nearly any spot will do, and the aroma of "Eau de Ammoniac", as The Professor likes to call it, is everywhere these days.  It's bad enough when dogs do it, but when you add a horde of drunken people who think the city is nothing more than one giant urinal, it can get pretty whiffy around here.  But there's a whole lot of drinking going on, and those that drink must pee.

So, the city gets "watered"  by male tourists from around the world, but we girls have to wait in seemingly endless lines.  Bathrooms are in short supply when there are so many people around, even though they are temporarily declared unisex to accommodate the extra female traffic, and the lines to use them are as long as those you might find for the most popular ride at Disneyland on a busy day. And woe to anyone who doesn't come prepared with a packet of Kleenex, because you can be sure there will be no paper left by the time you get there.

But times are changing.  It looks like women are taking a stand, or rather a squat, on the issue.  The other day, The Professor and I went to the fireworks, and within half an hour's time we saw two girls, from two separate groups, peeing in the street.  First time I've ever seen that happen here, and I've been to quite a few San Fermines, and I've seen some pretty outrageous things.  And they didn't even bother to look for a lonely corner somewhere (probably because there are no lonely corners anywhere to be found during San Fermin).  No, they just dropped their pants, squatted down near the curb, and let nature take its course.  So much for modesty.  I guess if you're desperate enough, and probably drunk enough, you stop caring who sees your junk.  What cracks me up is that in both cases, they had a friend stand behind them to "hide" them from the crowd.  Like that's going to make a difference when you're surrounded by people everywhere.  That's like an ostrich thinking it's invisible just because it sticks its head in the ground...sorry girls, but we can still see you.

Those girls sure could have used one of these nifty little items.  Just leave it to the Japanese to come up with a toilet in a bag.  Maybe I should set up a stand next year and sell these.  They might just catch on, and they would save a lot of people from public embarrassment.

Or maybe not.

So, for lack of a better option, we're back to peeing in the street.  Which at any other time of the year can get you into trouble.  The local newspaper, El Diario de Navarra publishes a list with the initials of those who have been fined for public urination.  At least they used to.  I haven't bought it in quite some time, but The Professor and I got a kick out of it the first time we saw that.  I don't know how effective it is, but I'm guessing that if your friends know what you did last night and they see your initials on that list, you'll never hear the end of it, and you might just think twice before trying it again.  The problem with getting that list out during San Fermin is that it would probably add about twenty extra pages to the newspaper.  Still, a fine might not be a bad idea.  The city would probably make enough to cover all the expenses of the fiestas. But I'm pretty sure the police turn a blind eye during San Fermin, because it would be impossible deal with that many offenders.

Maybe they should just put up a sign saying that all those who are caught urinating in public will be made to run in front of the bulls the next morning.  That might just scare them off.  Oh wait.  People actually do that for fun.

Okay, I'm out of ideas, so I guess we'll just have to put up with the city's new cologne for a few days each year.

Luckily, the clean up crews are excellent, and the city stays much cleaner than one would expect, so it's not as bad as I'm making it sound.  And I can't blame people for taking the easy way out.  Especially those that don't have a room and are sleeping in the street.  If they actually went to a bathroom every time they wanted to pee, they'd spend most of the fiestas standing in line.

Still, I can't imagine just dropping my pants and taking a leak in the middle of the street. Sure, I've made use of a strategically located bush when camping, and once, when I was about nine, much to my dismay, a bucket was my salvation when we got stuck in a traffic jam on our way to the beach. But I don't think I could ever get drunk enough to go in the street, like those girls we saw. Maybe they're just better feminists than I am, after all, if guys do it, why not us?

Um, think I'll just pass on that one.  Now, where did I put that Japanese port-a-potty again?


  1. This is also the question in a house with a two year old learning to use the potty.

    The clean up crews are one of my strongest memories of 24 hours I spent in Pamplona during San Fermin. How the streets could go from a rubbish-filled shitscape to a pretty nice place to have a coffee within a few hours from 7-9 am blew me away.

  2. Mi mama´me cuenta que cuando yo era pequeña le llamaron la atención, en USA, porque estaba a punto de hacerme orinar en un rincón de la calle... qué vergüenza.

    No he visto el video, me ha dado cosa y no me he atrevido :D

    Te dejo este link de un orinal

    En cuanto a las chicas ... pues es lo que trae el se si te sabes la metáfora de los animales, no recuerdo bien, pero se comienza como un mono gracioso, y se termina como cerdo

  3. Erik: Oh, I remember those days with our kids. The worst is when you go places, but think of what you save on diapers. :)

    Yeah, I'm amazed every year at what a good job they do cleaning up, they really are efficient. And it's a good thing too, I don't even want to think of what it could be like otherwise.

    giozi: Es genial el orinal ese! Ya podrían poner unos cuantos de eso por la ciudad en estas fechas. Claro que eso no solucionaría el problema de las chicas, pero algo es algo. En el vídeo realmente no se ve nada, solo ves a uno agachado cubierto con una bolsa...solo los japoneses podrían inventar algo así. :D Y sí, lo del alcohol, es lo que tiene. Pero creo que no hay alcohol en el mundo para que yo llegue a ese extremo.

  4. I just got home from a short trip to Yosemite. The unisex bathrooms at Wawona REEKED of Eau de Ammoniac for some reason. The porta-potties along the road in the high country were pristine compared to those Wawona wee-wee huts. WHY do men have such a problem hitting the toilet bowl?

    Okay, I just had to get that off my chest (or rather out of my nose). :)

  5. that japanese thing is just plain bizarre. and when the guy demonstrated it complete with "business face"...lord have mercy...just too weird.

  6. That Japanese toilet! LOL!

    Still, there are many portable 'toilets' on the market these days and some do look rather good. I kind of like the idea of the one which is simply a kind of funnel which enables the gals to stand up and pee like guys. OK if you're wearing a skirt, anyway!

  7. Okay, let's try this again...inexplicably haven't been able to comment on some blogs for some time now, but I just tried and was accepted at another...

    That porta-thing is too weird for me. The THING itself is okay, but once you drop the STUFF in it...that just creeps me out.

    I've never seen a woman squat in public, but years ago, when I worked as a sidewalk artist at a theme park, the young son of a woman I was painting had waited long enough...and just unzipped his pants and watered our flowers!

  8. Great post.
    Before the invention of public lavatories, men and women simply pissed where they stood. A cavalier's thigh length boot was simply designed so he could piss down his leg and into his boot, which ever side he "dressed". As for women, in the days of the crinoline dress, a lady simply curtsied gracefully over the gutter of a fashionable busy street, did her business, and the hoops kept her dress dry. Having no drawers helped of course . .

  9. Sorry guys, I've left this blog unattended for longer than I intended.

    Bud: You can come here to get stuff off your chest (or out of your nose) whenever you like. :)

    Lime: Yes, very weird indeed. That's why I just had to use it in a post. ;)

    Jay: I've seen that funnel thing, it does look handy...although I think I'd be a little embarrassed to whip out one of those and use it in the middle of the street. But I guess it beats squatting. :D

    ethelmae: Hooray! I'm glad it worked and very glad to see you here. So, what did you say to the boy? I bet that must have been a bit of a shock.

    Puebloman: And in those days baths were few and far between, so I imagine the world must have been a much more pungent place. I think I prefer the modern way. :D

  10. Point One: I prefer the modern way too - though I might give the Japanese Poncho Potty a try. Coupled with that alcohol hand wash thingy I already carry in my bag it could just be the way towards pooh poohing portaloo cabins .... which brings me to point Number Two. What about pooh?