How the Other Half Poops


My stomach and intestines are currently groaning like I imagine the Titanic did just before it split in half. Yes. It is dire. It is dramatic. Thousands of lives are at stake. Just wanted to let you know.

So using toilet paper and sitting down to poo isn’t a Moroccan thing at all. They prefer to poop how (from my perspective, anyway) the other half poops, involving squatting over holes and water. Frankly, it’s a bit more hygienic than what we do, but I wouldn’t say I’m any good at it yet. My style thus far involves bad aim and water everywhere, but I’m told that practice makes perfect, so we’ll see.

Since Morocco is such a tourist draw, it’s about 50/50 whether you’ll get a Western or squat toilet; the fac has squat toilets, Qalam has western. In the cities, mostly Western, in the countryside, a bit more on the squatty side.  Head for a more modern-looking hotel or café if you’re not crazy about the squatting, but if you are, GO for it! Here‘s how!

All of our homestays have Western toilets, though I’m also fairly positive that all of them suffer an eternal shortage of toilet paper. This dearth is not, I have concluded, brought on by some nefarious plot to make our pooping experiences extremely uncomfortable, but rather by the fact that they’re just not used to using toilet paper. I now confront Western toilets everywhere armed and ready.

Squat toilets, well…let’s just say that a nine-year-old with a super soaker might be able to get me wetter than I manage with that stupid bucket, but it’d be a tough call. Either way I feel like I need a blow-dry or a beach towel or a mop afterwards (ALL THINGS YOU CAN BUY IN THE MEDINA, FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT KATIE. YOU COULD BUY THEM AFTER HAGGLING WITH A MOROCCAN BLOW DRYER/BEACH TOWEL/MOP SELLER. HECK YEAH).

While we’re talking about personal hygiene, I took a shower tonight, and I now feel like an Egyptian goddess. Or any goddess, really; any clean goddess. No, I don’t shower frequently here; this bumps the shower-count up to 4, I think, including hammam, since arriving at my homestay.

Now, before all you surgically-scrubbed US-ians squeal in horror and unsubscribe and run screaming from such an unsanitary blogger, let me point out that sponge-baths are not included. Furthermore, you’d conserve water if you didn’t shower every day. Furthermoremore, shampooing frequently strips your hair of its natural oils, which it then overcompensates in replenishing, which is why your hair gets so oily so fast. Try shampooing less! Experiment! Your body will adjust, I promise. WOO!

Furthermoremoremore, it makes showering incredibly satisfying, and the scrub-down I just gave myself would rival any magical hammam lady’s. I feel amazing (except for my digestive system, which seems to have taken up a rather violent form of yoga. It’s struggling to contort itself into unnatural and rather painful positions while making a lot of noise and farts, which is exactly what happens when I attempt yoga).

Here in Morocco, and in many Arabic-speaking countries, when one comes out of the shower (traditionally the hammam, but they say it for regular showers too) or has new clothes or something, they’ll say b’sa7a, which means to your health, and traditionally will also give you food and stuff.  The reply is allah ya36ik sa7a (sorry about all the numbers. Each of the numbers represents a sound in Arabic that doesn’t exist in the Latin script, which is confusing and awesome. Ask me to pronounce it for you sometime. Or a Real Arabic speaker, better yet), which means something about God and you and health. It’s a neat tradition, and it’s also nice to hear a b’sa7a or two when I bounce upstairs for dinner.

Remind me to write about why I shower so infrequently. I’ll probably just post a picture of the shower situation here. It’s awesome and ridiculous and I’ll never take showers for granted again.

SoooooOOOOOooooOOOOoo that’s a bit about personal hygiene in Morocco. Poop on, comrades!


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