Saturday, 23 July 2016

Failing advanced environmentalism

For 6 days I spent 10 hours a day for 6 days painting and then a couple hours more in the library to avoid staying on the ground at a farm with a "composting toilet" (I'll spare you the details). Thank God for the wedding that made the long hours necessary, and for the nearby store with their immaculate customer toilet and for the library, open 3 days a week. I did not choose the place myself. One host delayed me for a week at the last minute, I wrote to someone else, she was full but recommended a neighbour. It was only when I called the neighbour next morning, after I was already packed and ready to go, that she told me about the toilet and about other guests being grossed out. I said "it is only for a week, so it is OK".

I did not ask why their veggie garden looked so healthy (they also have chicken manure) and I was not unhappy to be served only one or two meals of home-grown veggies.

I painted the white and red area where this ladder is, just to stay on the job. I got up OK with the host-painter holding the ladder. I painted the red part lying on my back and painting behind my head. I had to sit up for the white section. The painter kept coming to bother me - "I need the roller", "don't get paint on the metal". So I guess I was stressed out enough that it took me 5 minutes and moving the ladder twice to decide how to come back down. I was just about to suggest some kind of pole or another ladder when he came up half way and gave me his hand and I came down facing forward.

I have known for years that I have issues with alternative toilets and I actually left a lakeside retreat a couple of years ago and went back to a goat farm after one night because of the environmentally-sound poop hole in the ground. A few months later I couldn't help rolling my eyes as another host expressed enthusiasm about building outhouses for foreign visitors ( I didn't stay long in that place thank goodness). A few months ago I offered to go to a farm with alternative toilets and showers. Right now I am glad that the person did not respond. On a couple of road trips I have been OK with the outdoor toilets, because I was not going to stay there. In 1995 I was disappointed that a supervisor taking our MSc class to Italy on an academic trip chose a parking lot style camping stop with nice toilets instead of some kind of wilderness or farm. I guess it is hard to find a combination of both nice facilities and a nice environment.

I have just moved to a great place with an ensuite - I feel like I've come back to 2016 in the developed world. My last hosts brought me here and told my current host over coffee that a guest from Munich burst into tears when she saw their toilet and insisted that she be taken straight back to town. No kidding right.

Ancient poop shows how diseases may have spread along the Silk Road