This post comes from my grandmother Mary Bell’s memoirs Squatter’s Rites: 101 Travel Stories for the Vicarious Traveler. She wrote them during the late 90s, her stories taking place as far back as the 40s. They were never published, but instead typewritten and saved in a 3-ring binder. As I go through her collection of travel stories, I’m sharing some of my favorites with you!
Janet and the Bikini by Mary Bell
Turkish toilets are an anathema to American travelers though tour directors will assert that they are the cleanest of all types and perhaps they are. But they are also damned inconvenient. There are as many varieties of Turkish toilets as there are Western type flishers. The most common is the tile platform with two foot prints to stand in and a hole in the middle to aim at and nothing else.
You will find these in the mountains on Crete, in some museums, in some department stores. (You will also find an occasional Western type.) There are some with dirt floors and a hole in the middle. These fascinate me. I want to know how do they keep the dirt from falling in the hole and filling it up. At least you KNOW there is some support under the tile or it would cave in. Some of these infamous things are with cement floors, but with NO footprints, just a keyhole shaped hole. They are the worst because no one ever clean them and they SMELL.
The funniest one I ever heard about was some place between Patras and Athens at a pit stop. My friend Janet was traveling with another young lady who refused to wear anything but jeans. Janet had heard and heeded. Even though Janet wore skirts, she too had a dilemma.
The stall was huge: so big in fact it was just possible to reach the side walls with finger tips to support oneself and you know that the average expanse from finger tip to finger tip is six feet. A trench running the full width of the room was in the center with gushing water flowing on to its ultimate destination.
The trench was easily 12 inches across and equally as deep. One had to do a “splits” to accomplish the act of relieving oneself. (We are of course speaking of the female gender.) But what does one do with the panties that must be removed or you will be mighty uncomfortable for an extended period of time?
There never is a hook on the door to hang things on and one must touch the walls for support to prevent one from falling into the trench while in this acrobatic position. So how, what, when or where?
Why, with the teeth of course. Grab the waistband of your bikini between the front teeth and hang on for dear life!
***Follow this bit of advice plus carry your own blue, yellow or pink tissues in your pocket and your slack-wearing friends may never speak to you again. If you’re lucky that is.