Potty Humor: A discussion of 3rd world squat toilets.

Most Americans are completely mortified at the thought of having to use a squat toilet. Women especially will endure horrendous pain and discomfort rather than use a squat toilet, or go in the bushes. This was my fourth trip to a 3rd world country and each time, I was able to avoid using one until now. Although all our accomodations had Western style toilets, we had a day-long drive through some very primitive areas, and I had no choice.

My wife, and other American women we met on our tour would not drink a sip for breakfast, and would nearly dehydrate themselves on a 5 hour game drive for fear of having to go in the bushes. (If someone can invent a detachable wiener for women, they could be rich). I happily downed several Tuskers on our game drives and the women were green with envy as I asked to stop every half hour to go behind the Land Rover.

Anyway, one day my luck ran out and despite drinking only bottled water, I got horribly sick from the food. Fortunately, I was carrying Cipro just in case (which you should always do when traveling abroad). I only had a half day of down time where I was bedridden, but the next day was a travel day which included a 5 hour drive to the Serengeti. I felt good enough to travel, but I still had to "go" several times.

Out of necessity, I had to master the squat toilet. I discussed squat toilets with our guide and he said that although much of Africa now has modern plumbing and water, most people still prefer squat toilets over Western style commodes. His reason was that they are more sanitary since you never touch anything. I really couldn't argue with that. I asked how old or sick people manage to squat, and he shrugged and said, "They just do". I figured there must be a trick to it. Anyway, after trial and error, I finally figured it out and I can honestly say Squat toilets are OK.

So what's the trick? It's all about mastering the squat. Most people make two common errors. They either use a normal sitting position, kind of like you're sitting on an imaginary toilet, or squat low but balance on the balls of their feet. In the first case, your likely to make a mess all over yourself. In the second, you're not stable and likely to fall over and make a worse mess of yourself.

In the proper squat, you plant your feet firmly on the ground a little more than shoulder distance apart. You squat very low with your butt about 4-6 inches above the target. You should have your knees up close to your chest, and your arms around them squeezing tight. There are several advantages to this position:

  1. The low squat position is very stable and comfortable. You can sit in this position for a very long time if you have to and you're not likely to fall over. You don't even need to hold on to anything.
  2. Being this low, you're not going to make a mess of yourself, and it's easy to hit the target (if you're going #2). I'm not sure how targeting works for women going #1. --- I'm sure glad I have a wiener.
  3. This position naturally squeezes your intestines with downward pressure, so usually you can take care of business in a matter of seconds. No need to read War and Peace waiting for things to happen. Usually, it's like launching an AGM-114 Hellfire Missle.

You can actually buy "Natural Position Toilets" as they're called in the states that are very modern looking. Advertisements claim that medical studies show significantly reduced levels of colon cancer and diverticulitis when using these things. I didn't have much luck convincing Kelly that this is the way to go.

Lastly, I can confirm that the Brown Warbler does range on the African continent.