Monday, February 16, 2009

Tunisia is TP Free...

Tunisia has really gone beyond my expectations of modernity in many ways. My family has a billion TV channels and wireless internet, American music plays on the radio. I forget sometimes that I am in a different country. At least until I use the bathroom.

Most Tunisians don't use toilet paper. Yeah, you heard me. In fact, they find it disgusting. Attached to every Tunisian toilet is a little hose with water that comes out when you turn a knob. Instead of toilet paper, they just wash with the hose and then wash their hands. They see it as far cleaner than just wiping with toilet paper.

You can buy T.P. in the stores, but it's mostly immigrants, expats and tourists who buy it off the shelves. Our host families got it for us, so there's toilet paper in my bathroom at home, but there's no guarantee it'll be there anywhere else. Once my friends and I went to use the bathroom at a cafe and there was a man working there who handed us a few squares before we walked in. Then, we found out, he wanted a tip.

Other places don't even have waiters to sell you some toilet paper. There isn't even a holder for it in the public bathrooms at the mall in La Marsa. They are hose-only facilities. Most of us have had to use the hose a handful of times and it is a very interesting experience. I can see eye to eye with my Tunisians on many more things than I expected, but bathroom customs aren't one of them. We've all just learned to hold it until we find a T.P friendly place!


  1. HAHAHA, this is possibly the most random of the blog posts so far. But it is definitely interesting and entertaining. At least with a bidet it'd seem more practical and a bit more tidy for cleaning up, but a water hose? That sounds like a mess and a half waiting to happen :P

  2. I've typed and deleted three different comments. I apparently can't comment on this post without delving into "potty humor" so I won't. Very interesting however.

  3. Do they have toilets? My sister-in-law went to Beijing China to visit my nephew. She said most places didn't have toilets, just holes in the floor that you squat over. No TP either, she carried her own in her purse.

    She went to a indoor market and found a bathroom that had one stall with a toilet(it also had a number of "holes" lined up side by side). A homeless woman had set up house in the stall. She would vacate it for a few minutes, for a small fee.

  4. well, always nice when you can save a tree, wish public toilets in US had the option.