The Shitty Gritty


In nearly every country I backpack through, the hunt for toilet paper is akin to Indiana’s search for the Holy Grail.

And so I bring my own from home, flattening and finagling to fit rolls of it into my pack.



I barely used them in Cuba, where I was taught by Cubanos to use pages of the Granma.


While staying in tent camps in Haiti weeks after the quake, I shared the flattened rolls with my Haitian neighbors. When we ran out, they showed me where to wash rags used for the shitty-gritty (add another to the multi-uses for Buffs!).


Photo: Sylver Blaque / Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Local children of northern Madagascar rainforest villages followed me into the forest to see how I would use the flattened white roll.

In deeply rural villages in Afghanistan, girls stared suspiciously as I wiped instead of splashing with water.



Thank God there were no smartphones in the remote areas where I’ve shitty-grittied, or my squat would be YouTube-famous right now.



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Peasant Poo-Pee

ancient-roman-stepping-stonesThe streets of Rome stank with a stink that could kill.

And it did kill.

Streets flowed so thickly with poo-pee, that stepping blocks were provided throughout the city for people to walk on in order to avoid the filth.

Let’s just take a moment to picture that.

Um…never mind.

And what was the shoe situation?

Manolos…out. Jimmy Choo’s…no way. Yeah, okay, Roman sandals were the norm then. But seriously, sandals? Poo-pee squishing between exposed toes?

Just kill me now.


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Royal Poo-Pee

The royal party is jumpin.’

The gents are fine and gallant in tailored doublets over ruffled tunics, hose, and colorfully slashed breeches.The ladies are resplendent in vibrant, cleavage-boosting gowns – nobles in satin, brocade, damask..royals in sable, ermine, cloth of gold and purple silk.


Your hair is powdered and fluffy, your outfit recently cleaned, you even bathed your full body with herb or rose-scented water for the occasion.

The court is packed. Everyone who is anyone is in attendance: royals, noblemen and women, a bevy of great minds representing the arts, science and philosophy.

Music and laughter echo throughout the castle, and you feast on bronto-slabs of beef, veal, goat, mutton and suckling pig. You carelessly imbibe  godale, mead, and every type of wine – Cyprian, Rhine, Malmsy, Grenache, and of course, nectar. You step, leap, twirl, dip around the enormous, marble dance floor of this royal court.


Everything is gravy.

Until your bladder threatens to explode.

You must poo-pee.


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Poo-Pee Politics

medieval-urinal-fountainSo, you walk into a public bathroom and choose your urinal.

No need to worry about who’ll be peeking at your pee-pee.

Everyone will.


Because there are no divisions between urinals.

In fact, there are no urinals.

Because you are an ancient Roman. And there are important political matters to discuss, so you pee sitting down.

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A Poo-Pee Post: What if there were no doors on public bathroom stalls?

toilet-in-a-forestSo, you walk into a public bathroom and pick your toilet.

No need to worry about peeking around the door to check if the toilet is clean.

There are no doors.

There are no toilets.

And toilet paper won’t be an issue because there isn’t any. It hasn’t been invented yet.

Neither have bathrooms.

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