Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nicaragua: Toilet Training

At Totoco Eco-Lodge on Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua, the toilets come with instructions:

--Please only urinate into the front separator (smaller hole).

--Toilet paper can be put down the larger hole.

--If used, please always throw 3 scoops of sawdust down the larger hole.

--Please avoid any sawdust getting into the front urine separator.

Top photo: view of the toilet in our cabin at Totoco.

Middle photo: it's not sawdust but coconut fibers that we were tossing into the "large hole."

Bottom photo: I'm sure you wondered what a urine separator looks like. Here it is.

Composting toilets have been around for a while -- you'll find them in rural areas of Europe and North America where there's no sewer service and where for one reason or another a septic system can't be installed. But Totoco's toilets are not composting toilets in the usual sense; the composting is done elsewhere. The solid waste and sawdust go into a big bucket that twice a day is emptied into a compost area somewhere out of sight of guests. It wasn't apparent what happened to the urine that is so carefully kept separate.

There was no odor -- either in our own bathroom or in the toilets shared by the dining room and the hostel. Totoco -- there's a link in Ometepe item below -- has a handful of cabins like ours and eight or so hostel beds in a large room beside the dining room. If you're going to stay at a hostel, it's hard to imagine one with better views, nicer common areas (there's a pool) or more interesting toilets.

Nicaragua: Isla Ometepe

Isla Ometepe is a large island in Lake Nicaragua, one of the world's largest freshwater lakes. It is shaped like the numeral "8," with a volcano in the middle of each half and a swampy area along the Rio Istian in the middle.
At left are two of the many howler monkeys we saw on Volcano Maderas, the smaller of the two volcanoes. We stayed at Totoco Eco-Lodge (CLICK HERE), which is on the slopes of Maderas.

This shot of Maderas was taken while kayaking on the Rio Istian. (You may have noticed that I'm not bothering with accent marks on these Spanish names. You're right. I'm not.)

This is a tiger heron that was wading along the Rio Istian.

And this is Volcano Concepcion, the other volcano, which is a mile high and very active, as seen from Totoco Eco-Lodge.