Ankara, Turkey, April 2012
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We camp a lot and usually carry our own toilet paper. We are not too picky about the smallest room. But still – I personally would not sit down on any gas station’s toilet seat. In Turkey this is not even necessary. Here they use the so called Alaturka (Turkish toilet), a small hole with a flap in the floor and two surfaces for the feet left and right of it. Your instinct will show you how to use the Alaturka – lead the waste from the body into the hole – but there are some tricky details I will now introduce you to.
It starts entering the room. The first thing I see is a pair of beach slippers. I wonder who was forgotten them here. No, the slippers belong here. Each visitor exchanges his house shoes for them and changes them back after finishing his bathroom deeds. So the germs stay where they belong: in the hole (and maybe on the floor around). Special attention after a number two! Your feet may have got used to the coziness of the slippers and you may forget to change them back. It has happened to Roberto. He did not recognize he still had them on and entered the living room to continue his tea.
Trying to avoid a mess I found out that women should squat down with the bottoms facing the door and not as usual -towards the wall behind you. In this position it is possible to lead the spurt directly towards the little hole. After a little training the angle will be perfect and sprinkling the floor can be avoided. For a number two the position has to be changed so that the hole is situated directly under the bottoms.
I still have not found out what there is to do if there is a combination of number one and two advancing. Men just stand in front of the hole as in a urinal – nothing new for them.
After relieving oneself the quest for the toilet paper will start. Usually there is none. Though we usually carry our own and consider ourselves skilled in improvising with leaves and grass we have luckily never been in the situation to ask our host through the door for paper. If you are using paper put it in the bin after use in order to avoid congestion.
Now you will flush. Usually there is a button for the flush and a separate tap with a little beaker under it. It appeared logical to me that the beaker is used to save water flushing after a number one and the button is for cleaning heavier soiling. But I was wrong – the beaker filled with water replaces the toilet paper! Instead of rubbing with paper one can wash his/hers bottoms with cold water. Sounds hygienic, but it is not too easy to find the perfect angle. So better do not train your bottom washing skills in a private house if you want to leave the toilet with dry pants. I still have not been able to find out how the technique to dry oneself after the washing. That is why I adhere to my paper.
Dear reader, you are now perfectly prepared for a Alaturca WC when you visit Turkey. But don’t worry – especially in touristic areas most pensions and public gas stations also provide a toilet to sit on. Usually those toilets are combined with a small tube in the back part of the bowl. So the Turks do not have to miss their water cleaning.
I personally got used to this kind of relieving. No urine droplets on the toilet seat and no waiting for the partner who sits reading the newspaper for fifteen minutes. I do not know any man who dwells in the uncomfortable squatting position for longer than necessary. Maybe this could be the solution for many women out there who have to share a bathroom with a male.