Monday, December 24, 2012

The Hole


My life is strange now.  It isn't as if I hadn't mentally prepared myself.  I was expecting difficulties and hardship.  To be perfectly honest, I haven't run into any and it really has been quite easy.  The language thing is hard (seriously hard, we'll get into that later) and there are lots of cultural differences to get used to.  Also food, I really miss food.  BUT life is generally a piece of cake.  I mean there are twenty million people in this country doing it every day.  Still, it is often the simple things that surprise me.

I have a latrine.  It's a separate building in the back of my yard.  Basically a concrete box with a hole in it about the size of a cereal bowl.  I'm the only one who uses it and I shower there too so it gets a soapy cleaning every day and doesn't even smell.  Sometimes there are creatures in there, but they are harmless.  I have urinated on a lizard.  It's his fault, he was literally hanging on inside the hole.

The other day when I was finished, I mentally congratulated myself and said "congrats Dale, you shit perfectly into the hole."  A few steps later, I started laughing at how surreal that statement seemed to be.  It just never occurred to me that I might have that thought.  Ever.

Shitting in a hole is not easy.  This is particularly true for people who've had the luxury of toilets their whole lives.  First, there is the squat.  If you hang around Cameroon for awhile, you will notice that people are constantly squatting.  They squat to wash dishes or clothes, to prepare food, or just to talk.  And it is a specific squat.  It, sadly and surprisingly, takes a bit of practice to get the hang of.  Then there is aiming.  You have to aim both and the hole is simply not that big.  You'll miss, with one or the other, till you've had some practice.  And when you miss, you have to clean up.  Water and lots of toilet paper, I make sure to have plenty in stock.

Most of you probably didn't want to hear this.  It needed to be said.  You'll get the hang of it and it really isn't as bad as… the first time you make a mistake and stare trying to problem solve this shit.  It passes and you'll have another lovely life skill.  Just bring some water to clean your feet in the even of splatter.  Urine, I've yet to literally shit on myself.