How To Use A Squat Toilet

Today, of course, I’m a wizard of wandering; a master of motility; a gettin’-around guru. But it wasn’t always so.

When I first arrived in Zambia for my stint in the Peace Corps, I was immediately carted off to a village called Kapepa. There, I lived with a homestay family for a week. I had my own mud house, my own thatch bathing shelter, and my own pit latrine. I’ll be honest (and delicate): while I had no problems using the latrine to urinate, I had a real issue with going Number Two. My issue was so big, in fact, that I didn’t go Number Two for an entire week.

An entire week is a long time NOT to go Number Two.

One afternoon shortly after finishing homestay, we trainees were visiting the city of Kitwe. Sitting in a mini-bus, I’ll never forget the look on my friend’s face, when a week’s worth of starch finally came rolling downhill, screaming to be let out. “You don’t look so good,” my friend said to me. As her face floated in soft arcs in front of my pudgy, ashen face, I turned to the driver and screeched, “Where’s the nearest toilet?!” He pointed. I bolted. There, in that filthy hovel of a slimy little pooper, with the flies buzzing, and literally three squares of tissue remaining, I learned how to do the deed, squatting. Sweet relief never felt so good.

O, how I wish I had read Frank Bures’ excellent primer about using a squat pad before I had headed for Africa. It would’ve made a week’s worth of nail biting vanish in a moment. I could’ve printed out the treatise, studied it — and then used it for more ignoble purposes. Frank, buddy, where were you when I needed you?