Bathroom humor is always good for a few laughs. Belly roars and bursts of cackles can revolve around personal voiding habits and certainly toilets. Device malfunctions are all in fun, and animals using the loo are pretty amusing as well. Not much is funny about taking a shower, however, or using state-of-the art equipment. Shower heads are functional but glorious ways to indulge in a water cleansing fest in the privacy of your own home.
As I look for humor in all the right places, I also find it in some wrong ones. Places that are less likely to engender smiles and guffaws. Places that are just not funny to begin with. It just takes a willing perpetrator to bring a normal situation to a boiling point of laughter.
Traveling in the third world is a font of opportunity. Americans are so cleanliness conscious that they require a daily bath or shower to feel human. Their foreign counterparts find it wasteful and time-consuming. You can take a sponge bath if you feel that dirty in between your must-have days. I heard from a friend in Morocco about public baths and odd equipment. I have been to Japan and have seen some rather unusual methods of ablution. There is one that takes the cake I read about in Ethiopia. You don’t get to enter some of the smaller villages on your own. The writer was with a film crew that had permission to go deep into the hinterlands for footage, and the adventurers were expected and welcomed.
Bathing is top of the mind when it comes to US travelers. No matter where they are, they want to see the bathroom before even their bed for the night. Horrors if they have to use an outhouse. This film group, however, expected the worst and were not disappointed. If plumbing did exist, it was old and a hybrid of mix and match parts, some left over from World War II. In one area, the writer had use a shower toilet concoction. You never knew if they used filtered shower water was or if it straight from the bowl after use. The pipes could just have been old, but the color of the liquid was mighty suspicious. If you were lucky enough to use the “device” in the daytime, at least you could see before proceeding. If it was outside in a shed or shelter of some kind, you had to take your chances on what was coming out of the holes – it certainly wasn’t the best shower head and the holes in it were big enough to let anything and everything through.
It was worse if you had to take a colleague to save water which was scarce at even a mild warm temperature. Hearing such stories, I do think twice about where I go on vacation or what countries I choose to visit for recreation. Over the years, I find that fussiness is not a sin and convenience is a blessing. Basic human rituals are not to be taken for granted in many parts of the world.