Unusual and interesting toilets from all around the world.

The Toilets of Chile

Into the Southern Hemisphere

I had collections of toilet pictures from 22 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Everything was north of the Equator. Then, the total solar eclipse of 2019 took me to Chile.

No, toilet's do not "flush in the opposite direction" in the Southern Hemisphere. They don't consistently flush in the same direction anywhere! The flow pattern into the bowl totally overwhelms everything else. The coriolis effect is real, of course, and drives major oceans currents clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. But in toilets and sinks, no.

Travel in
Chile
How to approach this? Let's just follow my trip in order.

Santiago

I flew from the US to Santiago, and stayed a few nights at the Happy House Hostel in the Barrio Brasil area of Santiago. The first picture below shows my first-ever South American toilet, at the hostel!

Happy House hostel in Santiago.
Happy House hostel in Santiago.

The second picture above shows an elevated throne toilet at Happy House.

Bowl or Bin?
Where do you
put used paper?

All paper goes into the bin in Chile. Don't put paper in the toilet!

A few luxury hotels in Santiago belonging to US chains might have been built specially to handle the US habit of stuffing paper into the toilet.

But even if you're stuck at the totally synthetic US chain hotel, put your used toilet paper into the bin.

Below is the toilet in a small bar along Avidenda Brasil. Before getting a late dinner on the evening I arrived, this was my second Southern Hemisphere toilet.

It looks grim as you approach it, but it's nice. If you expect to need toilet paper, collect it before you enter.

Small bar near Barrio Brasil.
Small bar near Barrio Brasil.

Public toilets are commonly available in Chile. This one is near Cerro Santa Lucía, a popular park in Santiago.

Near Cerro Santa Lucía in Santiago.

Then I took a bus to the coast, to...

Valparaíso

I stayed at the Acuarela Hostel, an ascent of about 120 meters above the metro line along the shoreline at the port area.

Here's one of the shared bathrooms at the hostel.

Acuarela hostel in Valparaíso.
Acuarela hostel in Valparaíso.

Back down at the port the next day, I went to the Neptuno Bar for a glass of vino tinto, Chilean red wine, and, before leaving, a visit to their bathroom.

Neptuno Bar in Valparaíso.

There's a raised stool if you need it. Or a washed-down tile wall and trough if you only need a urinal.

Neptuno Bar in Valparaíso.
Baños públicos in Valparaíso.
Public Toilets

Baños públicos or public bathrooms are commonly available in Chile. They cost a small fraction of one US dollar, but the cost subsidizes their cleaning and maintenance. C$170 was about US$0.25 at the time.

From Valparaíso I traveled north by bus to...

La Serena

The shared bathrooms at the Aji Verde Hostel in La Serena were great. I was there at the end of June and first of July, the middle of the South American winter. At about 30° south latitude, it doesn't get terribly cold there, maybe down to 2–3 °C at night. But like most budget lodging in Chile, the hostel has little to no heat, and sections of it are open to the sky. So I didn't experience a shower in what seemed to me to be an unusually short tub.

Aji Verde Hostel in La Serena.
Restaurant in La Serena.

The last picture above shows the bathroom at a small restaurant in La Serena. Chile is largely coastline, there's great seafood everywhere.

The classic-rock-themed Duna Bar in La Serena had some amazingly over-the-top artwork in metal album cover themes. Their bathroom is functional, with a tiled urinal wall.

Duna Bar in La Serena.
Duna Bar in La Serena.

After the eclipse, I took a long bus ride back south to Santiago, and then continued south by train to...

Rancagua

Rancagua, Talca, and other cities used to be described in the Lonely Planet guides of the 1990s. By the late 2000s their descriptions had become quite terse. By the late 2010s, they got little more than mention in a brief list, as the once-great guide books now dedicated their space to spas and multi-hundred-dollar-per-night luxury hotels.

So, with guidance from a 1999 edition at the West Lafayette Public Library, I headed for Rancagua.

In the 1960s and into the 1970s, Rancagua was known as "The City of Antennas", as the locals competed to build more effective antenna arrays to receive television signals from Santiago. Then they got their own television station, and the antenna projects died off.

Below is the bathroom in my room at Hostal Rancagua. There seemed to be no heat supply in the room. Passing through here on my way further south, I was able to see my breath in the room in the morning.

Hostal Rancagua.
Hostal Rancagua.

The Kapital Bar in the university section of Rancagua has a highly functional tiled urinal wall.

Kapital Bar in Rancagua.

Rancagua is mostly dedicated to support services for the nearby copper mine, and agricultural processing for the farms in the surrounding central valley.

However, local book shops routinely featured books by Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Small office supply stores also carried both telescopes and microscropes. One street off the local square had at least eight used book stores within one block.

From the scientific and literate Rancagua I continued south to...

Talca

Below is a bathroom off the courtyard of Iglesia San Francisco de Asis, on the corner of Uno Sur and Calle 2 Pte. They're quite clear about where to put the used paper.

Talca, like many Chilean cities, uses a very logical street numbering system that makes navigation easy.

Church in Talca.
Church in Talca.

FAVOR BOTAR PAPELES AQUI.

PLEASE THROW PAPER HERE.

Don't plug up the church toilet!

From Talca I took a day trip by narrow-gauge train to...

Constitución

The area around the train station in Constitución looks very grim. A tsunami largely wiped the area out, and then construction equipment brought in to clean things up broke the remaining pavement and sidewalks into rubble.

But when you walk a few blocks toward the center, things become nice. Here is the bathroom at the Rapa Nui Cafe on the central square.

Rapa Nui cafe in Constitución.

From Talca I headed back north to...

Santiago

My friends from the eclipse had flown to Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, and we met up in Santiago before I headed back to the U.S.

Here are the brew-pub-themed sinks and urinals in the Kross Bar in the Bellavista area of Santiago.

Kross Bar in Bellavista, Santiago.
Kross Bar in Bellavista, Santiago.
Kross Bar in Bellavista, Santiago.

I was staying at the Happy House in the Barrio Brasil area. That meant that it was a short walk to Cafe Buda.

Cafe Buda in Barrio Brasil, Santiago.

And now, for some transportation toilets in Chile:

Chilean Bus Toilets

These are on a Romani line bus north from Santiago to La Serena.

Bus from Santiago to La Serena.
Bus from Santiago to La Serena.
Bus from Santiago to La Serena.
Bus from Santiago to La Serena.

Then I returned south to Santiago on a Transval bus.

BAÑO SOLO PARA ORINAR.

BATHROOM ONLY TO URINATE.

Don't poop on the bus.

The opening is awfully small. It does try to do a vigorous vacuum flush, but solid waste might not go down. At least not totally.

Bus from La Serena to Santiago.
Bus from La Serena to Santiago.

Chilean Train Toilets

Chile's passenger train service is limited to the main line south from Santiago through the central valley as far as Chéllan, plus a narrow-gauge line from Talca over to Constitución on the coast.

Main-line train from Talca to Santiago

I'm at the station in Talca, preparing to board the train running north to Santiago.

Train from Talca to Santiago.

Orderly, comfortable, here we go!

Passengers boarding train from Talca to Santiago.
Lavatory on board train from Talca to Santiago.
Lavatory on board train from Talca to Santiago.
Lavatory on board train from Talca to Santiago.

Buscarril narrow-gauge train from Talca to Constitución

The Buscarril looks like a mashup of a bus and a train. It runs on the narrow-gauge line from Talca to the coast and Constitución. There's a long stop midway in each direction, at Gonzalez Bastias.

The train remains in service as it's the only practical transporation for people in small settlements along the line. There are many potential stops other than the mid-way break, letting people off where they have asked the conductor to stop, and picking up people who are standing at the stop and flagging down the train.

It's just over three hours each way. You can leave Talca at 0740 and arrive in Constitución at 1052. Returning, you leave Constitución at 1545 and get back into Talca at 1857.

Buscarril narrow-gauge train from Talca to Constitución.

The lavatory is in a small compartment in the rounded rear corner of the engine car.

Buscarril narrow-gauge train from Talca to Constitución.
Buscarril narrow-gauge train from Talca to Constitución.
Travel in
Chile