Food Photos

Okay, even with my recent stomach bug, and since we’re on the topic of food, I’m going to be one of those tourists that takes photos of their food…but only occasionally. So here’s a recap of a few recent meals:

Enchiladas de Pollo con Mole, Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Seafood Ceviche, Xiltla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Elote, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Camarones Empanizados (fried shrimp), Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico

Sorry, no photos of the “cecina” mystery meat from breakfast.

On The Way to Palenque, and My New Favorite Place in Mexico

August 18, 2015

The bombs started again at 7:30 this morning, so I figured I might as well get packed and get moving.

New headlight bulb, checked spokes and other things for looseness, air pressures, adjustments. All good.

After a little bike maintenance, I walk over to the kitchen to get some breakfast, then finish packing up. As I roll the bike towards the gate from the hostel into the street, I suddenly hear english. After three days, suddenly there were people here that spoke english, and they were speaking to me. Two guys from the states. Two ladies from Cork, Ireland on a two week vacation. As I put on my jacket and helmet, I ask them where they are headed.

“Well, Palenque we hope. We were supposed to go on a tour today but can’t go to Palenque today. The town is shut down. There’s a big strike. Nothing is going in or out.”

“Of Palenque?” I ask.

“No, Here.”

“Hmm. Well, I’m on a bike. I’ll see about that.”

I roll out into the street. It is eerily quiet outside the hostal gates. No cars move. All intersections are blocked by taxis and colectivo vans. I spend the next hour going the wrong way down one way streets, over curbs, down sidewalks, and squeezing between parked taxis. They’re aren’t trying to stop me. They have no beef with me. I’m just a casualty. But they aren’t going to move for me either. Can’t set that precedent.

Main Street of San Cristobal. Nothing moving this morning except a few motorcycles.

Colectivos block the streets in protest. They didn’t mind me riding down the sidewalk to get around them. I wasn’t their problem.

At the edge of town where the highway enters into town is the largest roadblock. I try to squeeze between two vans but I’m too wide. As I look for another way around the driver of one of the vans tells me to go through where I just tried.
“No puedo. Estoy mas grande” I say. I can’t, I’m too big.
“Puedes” he says. You can.
I wedge myself in. He waves me forward. Hey, it’s your van, amigo. A little less paint but I’m through.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. The van got the worst of it.

The highway out of town looks clear. I sail along for 9 km. Then as I cross a bridge, a guy on a motorcycle coming the other way waves at me. He is telling me to turn around. I look ahead and the intersecrion is blocked with hundreds of people, some with large banners. The guy on the bike tells me not to go there.

So….I go there.
Time to put on my happy face. Flip up the front of my helmet and smile big.
As I roll slowly towards the crowd, two guys run out from the side and block my path. Suddenly I’m surrounded by about 30 guys with large sticks.
“Buenos dias” I say with a smile.
No response. No smiles. These guys are not happy.
“Puedo voy alli?” I ask, pointing to the hill on the opposite side of the intersection. Can I go there?
“Cincuento” comes the response.
I weigh my options, which are few. I can take off across the grass and hope for the best, but there are a few hundred angry guys with sticks between me and there.
On the other hand, these guys are the first wave of many. Who’s to say that once I pay these guys fifty pesos the next guys in line won’t ask for the same?
“Yo voy alli por cincuenta pesos?” I ask, pointing again.
“Si”
I dig out the change from my pocket. I have 45 pesos. I’m not about to pull out my wallet here, even though there isn’t much in it. I hand the 45 pesos to the guy with the bucket with the slot cut in the top. He doesn’t count it. Another guy hands me a piece of paper that explains their cause and will act as my pass through the crowd. They move on to a car that has pulled up next to me.

The paper works and I get through with no hassle. As I continue up the highway towards Palenque, I see more cars headed in the opposite direction, which I take as a good sign that perhaps the road is clear ahead.

I’m riding the “Ruta Maya”, or Mayan Route. Though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this well paved back then.

Not far out of Ocosingo, I hit a “toll” road block. This is perhaps my fourth since entering Mexico. These are people standing on the side of the road with a rope stretched across the road. The rope has a red flag on it. When a car (or motorcycle) approaches, they pull the rope tight. In theory at least, people stop, and they ask for a payment to let them through. I’ve rarely seen this work. A few days ago I came to one of these that was steel cable instead of rope. That was a bit scary. But so far they’ve always just let the rope down and let me through. Again, I’m just the hapless turista. They’re not really looking for me.

This one is four young kids, and for the first time, they hold the rope tight and won’t let me through. One of the kids wants 10 pesos. I shake my head. He repeats his demand. I repeatedly shake my head. I push on the rope with my front wheel and the kids are pulled forward slightly but resist. Eventually one of the other kids tells them to give up and they let the rope down. And I’m off like a herd of turtles on my little 250 towards Agua Azul.

Agua Azul is beautiful. Fantastic. The most beautiful place I’ve been in Mexico so far. No doubt about it.

Kids approach as I park, offering to watch my bike for 10 pesos. They gather around. But as soon as the bike cover goes on they walk away. It’s almost a confirmation that no one will bother it if it’s covered. I like that.

The water is a blue color that is hard to describe and the photos don’t really show it well. I felt like I could just sit and soak here for days. Peaceful, soothing, refreshing. Oh, and did I mention you can swim here? See all the people? Ha. Yeah, thank you to all the striking taxi and colectivo drivers in San Cristobal that prevented the tour buses from getting here. Next time I plan to come here I will definitely do my best to arrange another strike that day.

I spend some time eating lunch and chatting with the restaurant owner at Agua Azul (in Spanish, no less. I’m enjoying it now that I can struggle through more than two words, even if it is still very rough and they don’t understand me any more than I understand them most of the time). He says that the strike is bad for his business, but that there are no problems in Palenque and I should be fine the rest of the way.

My next stop is Misol-Ha. The name sounds Chinese to me, but it’s a large (100+ foot) waterfall into a pool below. I walk to the falls, look at it, and think, “Huh, this is a slightly larger Hamilton Pool” in Dripping Springs, Texas. Reminds me very much of it.

Misol-Ha Waterfall

There are a number of European tourists here, again. It’s an easy day trip from the Palenque ruins, where I’m headed tomorrow.

So tonight I’m enjoying a very nice, clean, if spartan, air conditioned room with great wifi for $21. And it came with a special pillow:

Looking forward to a good night’s sleep, hopefully with no firework bombs.

Topes: Diabolical Aggravation, or Brilliant Marketing Tool?

In celebration of passing through my 12th (and final) Mexican state, I’ve decided to dedicate a post to Topes. If you spend any time in Mexico, you can’t avoid them. I feel like I’ve seen, crossed, and experienced enough of them to write a thesis paper, but this will do for now:

In the vehicle durability testing world, there is a device used to punish chassis and suspension components. It’s often referred to as a “rolling road” or “cam drum”. Essentially, it is a large roller with a speed bump on it, and the vehicle’s wheel(s) are placed on the roller such that the speed bump comes around and contacts the tire each revolution, causing a disturbance to the vehicle.

Topes (pronounced Toe-Pays) are the real world cam drum. The amount of stress imparted throughout a vehicle each time it hits a Mexican tope is significant. As I mentioned earlier, topes are not uniform: some are round and smooth, some are low and semi-circular and hardly noticeable. Others are sharp; not much less than a standard curb. And some are simply fake. They paint the lines on the street to fool you into thinking there is a tope there, but there isn’t.

In most places where there are topes, there are also businesses. Some are brick-and-mortar buildings — well, maybe not so much mortar. More cinder block, or just sticks and corrugated tin. It may be a restaurant, an automotive repair business, or a store of some sort. Then there are the free-standing “mobile” businesses: the guy selling fruit; the woman selling hand-made necklaces or dolls. Topes are the perfect marketing tool: they force you to slow down, so people can put stuff in your face.

This got me to wondering: which came first, the tope or the business? I had originally assumed that people congregated where the topes were. But the farther I ride through Mexico, I’m inclined to believe that in many cases the people place the topes where they want. I base this on the varying designs and construction methods. For example:

If you own a brick-and-mortar business and can afford it, put an asphalt or cement tope in front of your business. Yellow paint optional, but better to slow people down in time to notice your business.

If you can’t afford the asphalt or cement, paint the stripes across the road to fool people into thinking it’s a tope.

If you can’t afford that much paint, just paint a sign that says “Tope” and stick it on the side of the road. People will slow down, and you can still do business with them.

If you can’t afford the sign, just pile some mud across the road so it looks like a tope. Sure it wears down fast, but there’s plenty more where that came from.

And if you’re out of asphalt, cement, paint, and mud, just grab a couple of orange cones and place them in the centerline of the street, a tope’s width apart. People will still think there’s a tope there.

I’ve seen all of these methods used by sellers in Mexico.

And I’ve learned that if you see a guy standing on the center line of the road holding a bunch of stuff to sell, hit the brakes. There’s a speed bump coming.

I suppose this is what happens when you don’t slow down for the topes. And yes, there is a tope right there.

First month on the road: Cost analysis

August 26th marked 31 days on the road. I’ve been keeping track of expenses, so I thought I’d just put them here for later review.

Fuel: $168.21  ($5.42/day)

Food: $384.34  ($12.40/day)

Lodging: $596.05  ($19.22/day)

Miscellaneous: $143.23  ($4.62/day)

Overall: $1291.83  ($41.67/day)

The miscellaneous category includes everything from park admission fees to a spare SD card I bought to download maps for my GPS and replacement parts for the bike.

I did not add the $230 I paid for two weeks of Spanish school ahead of time, although this probably should be factored in as well.

After this luxury of staying in a house for a couple of weeks, I’m hoping to reduce my lodging expenses as I’ll either be camping or staying in hostels for most of the rest of Central America. I don’t think I can reduce my fuel expenses much more, and while I could probably reduce my food expenses a bit more, I really enjoy eating, so I’m unwilling to cut much off of food. I will need tires in the next couple of weeks, and worse yet, the cost of the sailboat to South America is going to kill my daily average. Oh well. I’m still living cheaper than I could if I were just sitting on a couch at home, and I’m experiencing a whole lot more.

Four Brits and a Dane Walk Into a Chocolate Museum…

And that’s the group I found myself with yesterday afternoon, killing time after Spanish class. The ChocoMuseo in Antigua is an interesting place, and entertaining if nothing else. I spent a few hours learning the history of chocolate, from the ancient Mayan uses of the cacao bean and its’ husk for drinks and for trade, to the later Spanish acquisition and recipe change in 1521, to the English transformation into candy bars.

Various stages of the cacao bean, from it’s origin in the pod (top) to its’ dried and roasted form (bottom), the nib removed from the husk (left) and ground to powder, separated into butter and chocolate.

 

The Mayans used cacao beans for currency. This chart shows the value of various items in cacao beans. For example, a small rabbit was worth 30 beans.

 

Cacao beans being roasted in a comal. Comals are large flat pans that are used throughout Latin America. I saw many large comals being used in Mexico to cook tortillas.

 

Of course it wasn’t just a history lesson…we actually got to make our own cacao tea, hot chocolate, and chocolate candies.

After roasting, the beans are peeled. The nibs are ground into paste to make chocolate; the husks are steeped into a tea that was enjoyed by Mayan royalty. It’s actually quite good.

 

Using a pestle and mortar to grind the beans into a chocolate paste.

 

Finished product

The ChocoMuseo is kind of like a Build-A-Bear place for adults, although kids are welcome to participate as well. It was a blast, and Edwin, our guide/instructor kept it entertaining.

Multicultural group photo (after cleaning up the mess): L-R: Trine, Me, Ellen, James, Edwin, “Mamacita” and “Papachulo”.

Honduras: Fleecing, Flooding, and Fumbling

September 13, 2015

I will apologize in advance for the lack of photos and the somewhat negative tone. I hope you get the same entertainment reading this post that I get looking back on it now.

The plan was to cross two borders in one day: From El Salvador through Honduras to Nicaragua. I knew it could be done. But I had no idea how frustrating it could be. I was about to find out.

Leaving El Cuco early, it was only an hour and a half to the border with Honduras at El Amatillo. At the previous border crossing into El Salvador, we had hired a “helper”. Not really intentionally…he just happened to lead us to the border and we were suckered right in. But in the end it proved to be a small investment and worth it. Nice guy, easy process, cheap. During that border crossing, he pulled out his phone and called a friend at the border between El Salvador and Honduras, then handed the phone to me. I spoke with Ronnie Garcia, and he said he would be happy to help with the crossing into Honduras.

So when we rolled up to the El Amatillo crossing, there was Ronnie, friendly and ready to help. And that was the beginning of the nightmare. After agreeing on a price, we started the process. Within the first 30 minutes, the scam started. First, he needed more money for his brother Jose who would actually do the paperwork running. The next scam was that my Texas license plate would expire within six months, and Honduras would not allow anyone in with a plate that would expire within six months, but for a “fee” they could fix this. This was the beginning of my irritation. I was only getting a three day transit visa. Honduras could care less when my plate expired, especially if it was after the three days. And I was going to be out of the country later that afternoon.

Then they wanted more money for the bikes to enter the country. More than what we had read on the internet was the official fee. With “helpers” it’s hard but not impossible to argue. You are standing in a parking lot. It’s not the DMV or Burger King. There is no posted pricing. What you say you read on the internet isn’t what they say. The smart thing would have been to go inside and talk to the officials personally. But in all honesty, this border crossing was so sketchy that I was uncomfortable stepping more than about three feet away from my motorcycle.

We literally stood in a dirt lot for almost four hours. Next to us were some of the seediest people I’ve personally been around. I had my first introduction to a real crack whore. She approached me asking for food, money, or cigarettes. I was afraid she was going to touch me. She was barely conscious, and she looked like she could spread numerous diseases within six feet of her. After I refused to give her anything, she walked over to a hammock about twenty feet away, laid down, began eating something I couldn’t identify, then began urinating while laying in the hammock.

And we still had another couple of hours to stand there.

I was told that the system was slow, that it was Sunday and there were less workers on duty, that the computers kept going down.

Eventually, Jose returned with the paperwork. And then they wanted more money for fumigation. I was overheated, tired, hungry, and fed up. We argued for a while, and another crackhead showed up when he heard money being discussed. I refused to pull any money out with him present. Eventually Ronnie asked him to leave, which upset him and he asked me what my problem was. It was definitely past time to go.

We eventually settled on a final payment, and got on the bikes and left, bitter and frustrated. By the way, there was no fumigation process.

In the future, I can definitely advise anyone crossing this border to avoid Ronnie Garcia from Houston, Texas at all costs. This border is no different from the others, and a helper is not necessary.

That brings us to the next border crossing and a whole new situation.

It’s only about two and a half hours across Honduras to the Nicaraguan border. I was heading for Somoto, a smaller crossing and near Cañon de Somoto. We rode faster than I had ridden the entire trip. It began to rain. Then it began to pour. Then the wind started. It got a bit exciting for a while (including passing the guy on the 125 with the guitar bag on his back, wearing a nice white shirt and dress slacks, in torrential rain).

The rain let up before we got to the Nicaraguan border, but I was still fuming from the previous scamming. I had already decided that I would immediately tell any helper “NO!” and we would proceed without help.

Sure enough, as soon as we rolled up, a guy walked up all cheerful and ready to help.

“No necessito ayudar. Gracias, no”, I told him.

He continued to stand there. The immigration official walked up and took my passport and documents. He told me I needed a copy of the document and that I needed to have the helper go make the copy. SERIOUSLY??

Yep. The immigration official and the “helper” were in on the scam together, and the immigration officer essentially refused to help me unless I hired his buddy the helper. Here we go again…

Aduana leaving Honduras at the Nicaraguan border.

The guy on the Honduran side wanted money to exit the country, and tried to give me a Guatemalan quetzale instead of a US dollar coin. It went fairly quickly exiting Honduras but I was still irritated by the scamming.

We were then handed off to a new “helper” to take us through the Nicaraguan entry process. Finally, this guy was honest, straightforward, and helpful. No scamming, no inflated prices.

Aduana entering Nicaragua. Note that it is still daylight at this point, and not yet raining again.

Beyond his control, or anyone else’s at that point, we encountered a new problem: it was raining again, and the power was out at the border. They were unable to process our paperwork until the power returned. We sat for about two hours. Finally, at a few minutes before six o’clock (closing time), we were asked to buy a gallon of diesel for Nicaragua’s official generator, and after another twenty minutes or so, we had backup power and documents in hand. There were definitely moments of concern: we were in no-man’s land, between borders with no admission to either country; it was closing time, there was no power, and the next two days were official national holidays in Nicaragua (Independence Day). If not for the willing officials and the gallon of diesel, we could have been camped at the border for three days.

Documents in hand, we rode the final twenty kilometers to Somoto in the dark. I swore I would not ride in the dark, but tonight there was no choice. The rain had stopped, and there were people walking along the shoulder of the road, and on bicycles and horses. Very hard to see.

The Nicaraguan border guard saw me looking at hotel offerings on my GPS, and recommended a hotel from the list. Nice guy. Upon arrival, we met two Germans who were in the process of booking a tour of the Cañon de Somoto. That’s why I came here. So at 8am the next morning, six of us were piling into a Honda Civic to head for the canyon.

Motorcycles in Latin America

As I spent the last 7 weeks or so riding through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at all the other bikes. There is no question that in these countries people have less money to spend on transportation. In the rural areas, it is very noticeable that most people don’t have driveways from the road to their house. There is no need. It makes things more simple, as you can build further from the road, or up a hill that would be too steep to drive. As long as you can walk up it or your burro can walk up it, you can get home.

The transportation needs and abilities go from foot, to burro, to ox cart, to horse, to bicycle (it is amazing how much firewood, chickens, propane tanks, etc one can carry on a bicycle when it is your only method of transportation), to scooter, to motorcycle, to eventually car or small pickup. The far majority of families never graduate past bicycle. The next group is able to purchase a 125cc motorcycle. This serves as the family car, pickup truck, horse, etc, shuttling as many as five family members at once, or one or two and a large load of supplies. I saw more scooters in Mexico and Guatemala than I have seen since. Most all scooters and motorcycles tend to be between 125cc and 200cc. In Mexico, it almost seems like there is a law against having two people on a scooter; it’s always either one or four people. Typically Dad is driving, with a young child four to six years old standing on the footboard in front of him. Mom is on the back with a six-month-old to two year old child in between Mom and Dad.

Typical urban transportation scene: horse-drawn cart, 125cc bikes, bicycle, pickup, walking. All on the same block of the same street.

 

Typical 125cc family station wagon.

In Mexico, by far the most popular brand is Italika. While the name sounds like it might be Italian, it turns out these are designed and manufactured in Toluca, Mexico near Mexico City. Italika holds over 50 percent of the motorcycle share in Mexico, with over 400,000 bikes sold last year alone. As with everywhere else I’ve been, the most popular models are 125 and 150cc. They tend to be sold in Elektra department stores and similar places.

Leaving Mexico, the Italikas begin to fade and literally dozens of other brands show up. Just today I saw Genesis, Raybar, Dayun, Jialing, KYK, Platina, Yumbo, Sepento, and Haojue brands, along with a few Suzukis (the 100cc 2-stroke model is still quite popular) and a few Hondas. The venerable Yamaha YBR125 is still the high-end choice for reliability, and you see a lot of them, but price is a big concern in these markets. Because of this, the Chinese and Indian brands sell more. Styles range from what we used to call a “UJM” or Universal Japanese Motorcycle — the standard style bike — to sport models with large mufflers that resemble the 600cc and 1000cc supersport bikes in the U.S. and small headlight fairings, to what appears to be the most popular model these days: the 125cc dual sport bike. All of these have single cylinder air-cooled engines but with large radiator shrouds like a motocross bike, drum rear brakes and front disc brakes, and few frills. You tend to see more of the YBR125 street-style bikes in the cities, and more of the dual sport bikes in the rural areas. No surprise there.

The “Mercedes” of bikes in Latin America: the Yamaha YBR125.

 

A 200cc Raybar.

 

My favorite feature of the Raybars: cast into the side cover it says “Japan Technology”. I’m amused that a Chinese motorcycle manufacturer basically copies a Japanese design, produces it in China, and has the audacity to include as a feature the words “Japan Technology” on the side of the engine.

 

I stopped in the local Toyota/Yamaha dealer in Granada today, and among the YBR125s was this DT175 two stroke. Brand new. Virtually identical to the model that was sold in the US around 1980. I didn’t ask, but it appears to be a current model for sale here.

It’s also a bit odd to see so many motorcycles everywhere, but yet my XT250 is the only one with the headlight on during the day. People are often flashing their headlight at me to let me know I have it on, as if I have a choice.

My XT250 is a big bike for Latin America, but because so many bikes here are 125cc dual sports, it still tends to blend in. While I hear stories of all of the other riders who travel through on 650, 800, and 1200cc bikes who are constantly approached and asked the same three questions — How big? How much does it cost? How fast does it go? — I get none of that. Those who ride still tend to examine the XT closely, as it is different than what they see every day, but aside from the aluminum panniers, it doesn’t stand out from their own bikes. On the other hand, Judith’s water-cooled DR-Z400 draws attention (or it could be just that there’s a small woman on a loaded motorcycle with Swiss plate). The local police in San Salvador, riding air-cooled Yamaha YBR125s, asked her how many hours a day she could ride on her water-cooled bike.

Makes me consider how hard my poor little XT250 is working. But it hasn’t complained yet, and just keeps chugging along. It has definitely been a good choice for the trip so far.

 

The Fallacies of The Five Year Plan

My brother sent me this link to a great article not long ago. I found myself reading along thinking, “Yes! Exactly! That was me!” It really sums up what was going through my head when I finally pulled the plug and left on this trip. If you’ve ever thought you wanted to do something similar but thought “It will be five years from now before I can do that”, you should really read this article. It’s written by a woman who has been traveling via sailboat for a long time, but regardless of your method of travel, the pieces to the puzzle are still the same.

The Dangers of the 5-Year Plan

The decision I made to take this journey was never an easy one. But it was a journey I had dreamed about and talked about all of my life. My concerns over my future health and ability to do this trip later finally got to the point that, well, as the blog title says, “If Not Now, When?”

Since leaving two months ago, I have met dozens of people — probably more — that have come to this same conclusion but much earlier in life. Many of the travelers I’ve met who are traveling for a month, six months, maybe even a year, have said they wished they could do what I am doing. I’ve always replied “You can. Just don’t wait until you’re my age to do it.”

I am sure that to many people who have dedicated their lives to work, this seems like an irresponsible statement. I could go on for a long time about how my view of what’s important has changed tremendously due to the people I’ve met, and the conditions I’ve adjusted to in order to make this trip possible. I don’t miss my big house, all my “toys”, all of the “stuff” I had acquired. Now I look at the simplicity of how houses are built in other places, and how functional and comfortable they can be for a lot less money. I continue to jot down notes about building ideas for whenever this trip is over. I don’t know where that will be, or even when, but there is no question that my lifestyle, views, and most importantly my stress level, have all changed for the better.

And I feel like I’m still just getting started.

Miscellaneous and Random Thoughts (and a little bathroom humor)

I’ve had a bunch of thoughts and photos that don’t really fit into a blog post, so I figured I’d just throw them all here.

Mileage-wise, since leaving home July 27th, I have ridden my little XT250 a distance equal to riding from Los Angeles to Atlanta and back to Los Angeles, and then back to Atlanta again. It hasn’t complained yet. For those that think they need at least a 650cc motorcycle to do this trip, I still disagree. The speed limit on most highways in Central America is between 60 and 80 kmh, or 35 to 50 mph. In towns the speed limit is typically between 30 and 40 kmh, or 20 to 25 mph. You can do 100 kph on small stretches of the InterAmerican highway, but that’s about it. Most of the time, you will end up averaging about 35mph.

There are still several things I haven’t gotten used to:

  • Nearly every male between the age of 14 and 80 walking beside the road is carrying a machete. Those between 10 and 14 are holding a rope attached to a horse.
  • Bare electrical wires attached to shower heads.
  • Open-air construction. Most roofing material does not touch the walls; there is a four to six inch gap between. This allows for good air circulation, good mosquito circulation, and good critter circulation.

Spider on the inside of the shower curtain. Overall diameter (including legs): about six inches. To her credit, the water from the shower didn’t bother her and she stayed put.

 

In the mountains, you get large spiders in the bathrooms. In the forests, you get large snakes, frogs, etc. Along the coast you get large crabs.

 

In my previous life, among other things, I spent time studying and discussing human factors — how humans interact with their environment, products and machinery. So things like this bathroom just drive me nuts. The entire room is three feet wide. I am just over six feet tall. I cannot sit on this toilet…my knees hit the wall long before then. Also, the only way to get to the shower is to squeeze between the toilet and the wall. But that’s exactly where they put the towel rack, as an obstacle, instead of on the opposite wall above the toilet. That wall was reserved for a picture of a tulip. And if there’s a towel on the rack, you can’t sit on the toilet OR get to the shower. There used to be a toilet paper holder to block your path also, but apparently someone already broke that off getting to the shower.

 

Random artwork in a hostel.