How to Poop: Lessons from the Middle East

There is no more valuable lesson when traveling the Middle East than…knowing how to poop. That’s right folks: Pooping is indeed an art, one which must be mastered if you plan to travel throughout the Arab world and any other developing countries for that matter. So today I show you what I learned from living and traveling throughout the Middle East for 16 months.


Squatter - by Mintguy, Wiki Commons

1. Practice squatting – while practicing may seem stupid to you, knowing how to squat is not enough in order to be able to actually poop. Ask me, when I had to squat for long periods of time in the scorching Egyptian sun by a hole with only wooden walls, a door, and no roof. I would just squat there until actually, well, going, about 30 mins later (I wish to not remember sometimes). Thus I learned: You should practice pooping while squatting at home, prior your trip. This way, if your “endurance” is not too good at first, at least you can “drop” safely on top of your toilet seat until, eventually, your body gets used to it. And trust me, it will learn how to go right away once you squat with your pants down. It is basically muscle memory (really).

2. Spot your target and plan your strategy - yes, you need strategy here. Start looking at some pictures of squatters (like the one above) and imagine placing yourself on it in a way that you are comfortable and able to poop properly inside the hole. If not, just practice on an actual squatter once at your destination–but when you don’t have to go. Not planning ahead will mean walking out with a prize of your, ermm, effort. This happened to me several times during desert trips until I finally learned to plan ahead and practice my strategy when I didn’t have to go so I could be ready for when I had to.

3. Be prepared – always carry plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer with you. Why both? The tissue will be good for wiping, while the sanitizer will be the true cleaner. For instance, what if you make a mistake while squatting? I’m sure you’ll want to sanitize the victimized area afterward. Never underestimate squatting accidents–they can be pretty ugly. Once I lost my balance…and yes, I fell on it. All of it. Not only did I not have enough tissue to clean up, but I didn’t have any sanitizer whatsoever. Nonetheless, lesson learned (and the dirty way)

4. Always carry a bag – while some of your waste will decompose, your tissue probably won’t. We don’t want to pollute the environment–always carry a bag you can tie to put dirty, non-biological items in.

5. Practice digging – sometimes, you find yourself in a situation where no squatter is nearby and you really need to go. We want to be as considerate as we can be, so practice digging a little hole in record time. Recommended depth is 6-8 inches or 15-20 cm by the way. The more you practice at home, the faster you’ll be able to dig a hole, and the least likely you’ll poop yourself in the process while abroad. Some of you might think “well, I’ll just poop on the surface!” Really, really? Not nice…

Got lessons learned or any other tips on how to poop abroad? Comment below!

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8 Responses to “How to Poop: Lessons from the Middle East”

  1. Sofia Says:

    This is an awesome lesson on traveling abroad to the Middle East! Who knew you had to master the art of pooping while over there. Now, what I would LOVE to see is people actually practicing digging before… I can see people’s neighbors wondering what the eff we’re doing digging up our front yard!


  2. Cornelius Aesop Says:

    I saw the squat toilets in Japan but never used them, but I didn’t know that they were common in the Middle East as well.


  3. Sam Lovell Says:

    Interesting post… :) though you didn’t mention the water jug!? I always found (and now prefer) using water as oppose to paper.. Only problem is when you return to the ‘west’ after such a long period and have little choice but to conform and use paper again… Ouch! Happy and safe pooping!


    • Maria Laborde Says:

      Ahh the water…I really had issues with that. Never worked for me. In fact, oddly enough, I felt worse if I used water than nothing at all! But good pointer :P


  4. Cristina Says:

    I found some in Romania, too. Albeit in places which is a bit of out “civilization” reach (the side of a national road, for example, in something that should have looked like an inn…at some point or at a bar near a recreational area). I cringe only thinking of them.


  5. Tom Says:

    If you DON’T dig a hole and you try pooping on the surface, you will eventually poop yourself because the pile will grow all the way up to your butt hole. So don’t just dig for courtesy, dig to keep your butt clean!


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