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.

People apparently miss their squat toilets, so they adapt

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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27 responses »

  1. Luke Heikkila says:

    Winner winner chicken dinner… You just Wrote a blog that will get 1000 views easy

    • danbohmer says:

      Thanks Luke. I will let you know how it turns out. My highest daily count so far is 423. We’ll see if this topic is ‘the one’.

      • espanolgm says:

        Whoa! Crazy and had no idea-just wanted to post that Soldiers’ Angels loves and supports all of you. Thank you for all that you do, you are in our prayers of safety. The pictures of the children are beautiful.

      • Luke Heikkila says:

        You are a good photographer, you’re experiencing things few people can, but I bet there is a sub-culture of people who look pictures of disgusting crappers on the Internet. Gold mine.

  2. Aaron Staines says:

    Now I know why Matt’s #1 request is toilet paper…I’m going to recommend the 500 meter stroll.

  3. kafoodie says:

    Looks like we’re bloggin’ about similar things…but I’m relegated to KAF only.
    I’m mainly talking about DFAC food but washrooms, of course, figure prominently in anything to do with living in Afghanistan.
    http://justdfacsmaam.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/point-taken-given/

  4. […] wrote about the pitfalls of our toilets in Toilets on the FOB, but that mostly described the situation on FOB Apache.  COP Mizan is unique from the other FOBs […]

  5. Jeremy says:

    Unpleasant memories! I was very, very, lucky to score a two-man “dorm” at Gardez; my roommate (the chaplain) and I had our own private bathroom with a toilet and shower! I don’t know of anywhere else that had that while I was there, but I was very grateful and thankful for it!

  6. laz says:

    wow, this is crazy! Had no idea about this!!!

  7. […] Palatial Privy Several weeks ago I described our toilets & showerson FOB Apache.  Since then, they have have opened a new shower building. Our first […]

  8. […] 2nd most popular post: Toilets on the FOB […]

  9. Thanks for liking my blog. Yours is awesome. This one is funny, breathtaking and raises an issue I’m sure few folks in the states even consider. I’ve seen those pictograph toilet instructions on Facebook and always thought they were a joke. Now I know better. John/4GWAR

  10. Mona says:

    I am sure that this is a serious issue for you, but I giggled all the way through it. By the way, I worked in China last summer and found (to my dismay) that 90% of the toilets there are the squat kind that you picture above. I was relieved to find that, in our hotel, we had western toilets.

  11. Wow, saw the pictograph instructions in FB thought that was a joke
    Funny but also raises health issues
    I bet you miss the comfort of being home
    All the best and stay safe
    Jenny

  12. LA Edwards says:

    Okay, That was the BEST! I about peed my pants with laughter as did my son. Having a son in law in the air force and having been stationed in Iraq, Korea, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. I am sure he will appreciate this, therefore I am re posting on my Facebook just for him, and of course others. Thanks for the laughs!

  13. […] homepage, which is responsible for 6958 views.  The post that has generated the most interest is Toilets on the FOB with 379 views, followed closely by my About page.  I did update that a few weeks back, so you […]

  14. […] Romanians, DynCorp and US Forces.  This section includes our 4 latrine trailers (as described in Toilets on the Fob).  Each trailer has 3 toilets, 3 showers and 2 […]

  15. […] the unique toilet situations we find over here (Toilets on FOB, Point Taken Given) similar to my Toilets on the FOB post. In fact, that post of mine lead to thier blogs. I was very surprised to see imexcited here. […]

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