Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pit Latrine Musings

To an inordinate degree, many PCV's not only talk about food, but we talk about our bodily functions, the pure art of bathing, or pooping for that matter. I know more about one of my friends nightly bucket activities than I do about her in any other realm. Exciting stuff!

So secretly, I've thought that everything in my domain has definitely been a bed of roses. Until----I wake at 4am with the frightening thought that most of the village has been without water for well over a week now, and my bathroom needs to give way to whaaat---the dreaded Pit Latrine. Not to sound facicious, but Holy Crap! I am definitely not a Pit Latrine kind of gal, and granted, many PCV's do not have indoor facilities, but with all due respect to my fellow mates, I thought I had it made here. Even with my house falling apart, at least it's my house, with my own seatless toilet that I've gotten used---all I cared about is that it flushes and it's in the house!

There are 2 Pit Latrines outside, and never have I given them a second thought until I was pondering ways of getting rid of my garbage. You see, the donkey carts have stopped collecting garbage since December---somehow the donkey situation is under review, but in Africa reality, this can take a year, if not more. My mind then filled with failing senses of an ecological, sustainable world when a friend of mine told me to start throwing paper products and such down the pit latrine. Geez, I thought I would be Peace Corps free of Pit Latrines, but this provisional garbage situation seemed logical to me. So for months now, I've been throwing stuff down the pit, and praying things don't start coming up through the ground. I figured though, that my friend Dominique is a smart and sensible being, one whom I trust, and if my garbage decides to lend itself to an underground creature, Dom and I will have a nice long talk. Yet for the time being, and I do hope this time being is short lived, I'm falling into the world of spiders and snakes in deep holes in a different manner---a manner for the more correct usages of the Pit Latrine—to pee and poop.

Can you see the spider?
In essence, a Pit Latrine is a deeeeeeeeeeeeeeep hole in the ground (15-20 meters), with some being better than others. My main point is that you usually have to squat to use the Pit Latrine unless it's built up and randomly used as a toilet seat. I've recently found that it's best to do your business when you REALLY have to go so you can get out fast---God forbid you're having trouble pooping—it could be a real killer on the thighs. Thank you God for my martial art training!!!! This is not an enjoyable experience though, good squating skills or not, considering that I'm scared shitless (excuse the pun) to even go into the Latrine. Throwing garbage out really quickly is one thing, eliminate my bodily functions is quite another.

So here I go, I take my scraps of garbage---nothing like doing two things at once, I run, I pee, throw the garbage down, I don't shut the door because I have no idea what's behind it, I could care less who wants to peak, and I run out as fast as I can thinking, there is no way I'm having my morning pot of tea until this situation is resolved. Later in the day though, a phantom chicken was peering through the latrine—ok, how the hell am I gonna do this fast enough with a chicken staring at me, let alone the spider behind me, and fearing snakes and the milk carton coming up to snatch me. Boy is this great Peace Corps stuff!

Life in Africa is fun---you have choices each and every day---to follow your every emotion, or decide to commit to what is more important than the feelings that seek to hinder you. After several days of this now, I've made a choice to let go of a sustainable world for awhile, and to give into the dreaded fear of a Pit Latrine. It's actually the best feeling in the world when you push past something difficult to the other side, and now I've done it—I'm in the world of Pit Latrines---my life for the moment, and it's all mine and the chickens! Now if I can only find a place to wash my hands, life would be a bed of roses again!

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