One of the universal questions people have is ‘what are the bathrooms like’? As with most things in Afghanistan, the answer depends on numerous factors. Meaning that there are a wide variety of answers available.
At FOB Apache we have standard porta-potties and bathroom trailers. The bathroom trailers are about the size of a small shipping container (the ~8×20 steel boxes you see on ships, trains, trucks, etc.). There are 3 basic varieties (at least for males): Some are configured with 6 showers and 3-6 sinks; some have 6 toilet stalls and 2-3 sinks & 2-3 urinals; some have 3 showers, 3 toilets and 2-3 sinks and 2-3 urinals.
As I mentioned before, some of the trailers are just a few hundred feet from our tents, but I generally do not use them. Instead, I will walk the 500 meters or so to the trailers on the far side of the FOB. They are generally less crowded & cleaner. To be clear, I am not complaining about the cleanliness or availability of our toilets. It could be worse…a lot worse.
Almost all of our services on US run bases, like Apache, are done by civilian contractors, A large percentage of them are third country nationals (TCNs) from India, Pakistan, Kenya, etc. They actually do a pretty good job keeping them clean and repaired, but given the population and the wide variety of hygiene habits, I imagine it isn’t always easy keeping all the latrines clean & in good repair.
It is interesting and sometimes a little dismaying, at the hygiene habits of our fellow FOB inhabitants. For instance, this sign is there for a reason:
It is unappealing to take a shower in a shower stall that has been used as a squat toilet. After all, a shower drain is not built to handle human waste.
We also have the sign to the right posted in all our bathrooms on FOB Apache. I do not think I will ever understand why I should see boot prints on the toilet seat.
Unfortunately, as with the sign above, it is in English. I am pretty sure there are not many native English speakers that are standing on the toilet seat or crapping in the shower stalls, so it really isn’t very effective.
The desire to stand on the toilet seat must be a strong one because they recently replaced some of the ‘normal’ toilets in the trailers with squat toilets (below) – of course it was in the trailers nearest our tents. I will not be giving them a try; one more reason to make the long walk to the bathroom.
Believe it or not, they make squat toilet porta-potties. We do not have any on Apache, but I did see some at KAF.
Up at FOB Bullard, they do not have the civilian contractors, so no TCNs, but there are a few Afghans (interpreters) that live there & of course you do see squat toilets in Eastern Europe, especially in the poorer or less developed areas. The Romanians are in charge of the base & they have attempted to solve the toilet problems with visual aids versus written signs. These are 3 of the signs posted in the main latrine (it is an actual building rather than a trailer!). They also have some latrine trailers at Bullard, but trust me, you don’t want to use them…or even have me take pictures of them
Sometime I will talk about the showers…
Thanks for looking!
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