A Toilet Challenge (Philippines)

Rizal Mountain Run, Philippines (©photocoen)I’m not easily disturbed by non-western toilets. Give me a bucket with water instead of toilet paper, and I’m okay with a hole in the ground. There are few advantages of being anosmic but not being able to smell is more often a pre than not at rest rooms, bath rooms, toilets, or comfort rooms. The latter word is used in the Philippines.

Being able to squat easily helps a lot to. Whether it’s above a hole in the ground, or on the edge of the toilet bowl. It doesn’t bother me if the toilet is dirty or if the seat is missing, I’ll just put my feet on the edge and squat. This appears to be the general way of using a toilet in the Philippines, considering the number of papers I’ve seen hung on the wall where it is explained that a toilet seat is meant to sit on, not squat on.

However, thus far toilet seats in the Philippines have often been absent. And, the toilets are very low compared to western standards, although without doubt perfect for the average Filipino, who generally is shorter than we are.

But today I found myself staring at a toilet bowl, wondering what to do. My legs were stiff as planks. I could hardly bend them without crying out in pain, let alone squat.

What happened?

Well, I went for a run. A long one. 15K – my first (The Rizal Mountain Run). A trail run in the mountains – my first. On five-finger trail-running Vibrams – apart from two 5K training runs still new. Not the best combination, to put it mildly.

I overdid it: 5K beginning of January, not doing much until my first 10K last week, and now taking it up to 15K (end of Feb), in the mountains.

It was too much, too fast.

It was an awesome run though. Through the countryside characterized by bamboo, banana trees, small farms. I’m glad I went but I’m paying for it. Dearly.


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