Countries Visited

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Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Special post: Poop in the hole!

I posted on Facebook recently that upon my arrival to Morocco, I had the pleasure of pooping in a hole. This comment seemed to create a bit of hubub, so I thought that I would expand upon the experience here.

In Morocco, about half the toilets we have encountered are regular, Western-style toilets. They have seats and some method of flushing, whether it's a button or a cord you pull or whatever. The other half are squat toilets, which look like this:

In other words, a hole in the ground that you squat over if you're a lady, or if you're a man doing his #2. (Aim carefully!) As you can see from the picture above, there are two raised, ridged areas for your feet, to keep you from slipping in. There's also always a bucket and a faucet nearby--when you've done your business, you fill the bucket with water and pour it down the hole to "flush." Away goes your pee, poo, and paper down the drain.

I should mention that the squat toilet pictured above is a very nice one--it's the one in our current hotel in Marrakech (which also has a Western-style toilet in the other shared bathroom). In public bathrooms, you only get squat toilets, and they're usually not quite as clean, though all public bathrooms here have a cleaning lady (or maybe man, for the mens'?) on permanent duty, so things don't get unbearably grotty. And you are expected to tip this lady upon your entrance or exit to/from the bathroom, or risk very dirty looks. (Don't expect amenities like toilet paper or soap for your money, though.)

In all of our travels in Latin America, I only encountered a squat toilet once, at a "rest stop" (I use that term very loosely) in rural Bolivia. Everywhere else used Western toilets, though in some of the poorer countries, they were often lacking a seat (I got pretty good at perching on the rim). I've also seen them in the past in France, where they cost less than Western toilets at pay pubilc toilet areas, and in Malaysia I think we used them once or twice. But I've never seen them with the frequency that we've found them so far in Morocco. We expect them to be an African theme.

One more note--I think I read somewhere that the motion of squatting all the way down to use such toilets (or go in nature) helps move things along your digestive tract and actually makes it easier to poop. Like, that's actually the natural position we are supposed to poop in. Well, I'll just say now that, based on experience, I can't disagree!

OK, more real updates from Morocco soon.


  1. Thanks for being brave enough to test them for all of us and report back! (Actually, by the sounds of it, you didn't have a choice!) I remember there used to be more of these when driving around France - for some reason they said they were 'more hygienic' (I guess because you don't actually touch anything??). But yikes.

  2. By the time you get to India, you'll be pros! All squatters, all the time.

  3. I found these a lot in Thailand too. I guess they're anywhere where having no moving parts is desirable.

  4. I found them a lot in China as well. The one in the picture looks so nice and clean!

  5. I think it sucks and I'd be at the four star hotel for the duration. Guess who?

  6. i think squat toilets are still common in public restrooms in thailand, but i don't think this is the case in private homes. and i love the fact that you and andy said poop.

  7. Thanks for nice reflections upon squat toilets. But I am really not sure if such toilets are more hygienic (cfr Amanda). Last year I was hiking in South America. The squat toilets were terrible! I hate to admit but I preferred to pay a visit behind a bush when I had to relieve myself. Yes, for sure embarrassing. We were so many in the group that the risk for being observed was high. But using one of those dirty toilts was just imposible. And besides, I think many of us tried to hide behind a bush instead of using the squatter to get necessary things done. At least I saw some others trying to hide as best they could. This made it all a bit less embarrassing, even for a middle aged western woman who likes to do such things behind locked doors.