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Why Is This Popular: Urination in Public

By Steve Mullaney

Perhaps during an evening stroll you have noticed some wet spots on the sidewalk or on a wall. You might chalk it up to the near-constant tossing of water onto the road done by many Guatemalans to keep the dust down or to a very selective rain cloud.  While either of those possibilities could be true, the much much more likely possibility is that you have just walked across (or into, depending on your luck) a bunch of urine.

In a society which often refuses to engage with one function of the penis (sex) to often negative consequences, I am at least relieved (pun!) that there is a great deal of openness around its other principal function (urination). Oftentimes, “holding it” can cause negative health effects: damage to the kidneys, and the bladder in particular. Very few men in the country—particularly those working in the transportation industry—will ever need to fear these negative effects.

But why is this so popular?

One possible explanation is a lack of bathrooms. When is the last time that you have been in a building, any building, that has multiple toilets in the same general restroom? Fast food, and probably no more, I would assume. Given that much of the “nighttime shower” is often related to the need to expunge one’s bladder of the beer that one has just drunk. If the line at the john is seven deep and there is only one toilet in the establishment a reasonable solution, one in which I have partaken, is to find the nearest corner and go with the flow, or rather, let the flow go.

A similar phenomenon exists with buses and bus stations. I would speculate that the only thing worse than having to go for four hours while on a bus is having your child complain about needing to go for four hours while traveling on a bus. Consequentially, it’s quite a common sight to see parents hastening to assist toddlers to drop trou after a hellish bus ride from, say, Guate to Xela with an hour stop for traffic.

There’s no getting around it: much like the Internet, public urination is here to stay. Given the range of opinions on the topic, I think the best advice is to be discreet, be respectful, and whenever possible choose a secluded area. In the meantime, if any aspiring mayoral candidates were to campaign on adding porta-potties they would totally get my vote.

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