Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My kingdom for a throne

Christchurch mayor, Bob Parker, had to give a - hmm, not demonstration... an explanation of how a chemical toilet operates at yesterday's earthquake briefing. Some people have been struggling to work out the mechanics of it. Others have found it more difficult to find somewhere to empty it afterwards, unfortunately - Civil Defence are still grappling with the logistics of that, with 100,000 people still lacking sewerage. More Portaloos and chemical toilets are on their way from the US, China and Australia, with the aim of achieving a ratio of 1:4 people.

Other ChCh residents have been more proactive, fashioning creative long-drops in their gardens using outdoor furniture, concrete blocks, bales of hay, tents and umbrellas to make somewhere not just suitable, but comfortable, wherein/on to commune with nature.

It's to be hoped the Australian imports don't come already fitted with the natural feature of this northern Queensland toilet, above. It's wonderful how something like that can make your body instantly rethink what was, moments earlier, apparently an undeniable urge. Something similar happened on the Irrawaddy River ferry in Burma, a two-day trip in the bare-board luxury of the bow cabin (shared with eight other people, including a monk) with an ensuite furnished with a shiny, shifting brown coating of shoulder-to-shoulder cockroaches. Nobody took more than a fleeting look inside there.

I have, on the other hand, been delighted with some back-country long-drops here in NZ, that have been a pleasure to use simply because of their fabulous views over mountains and valleys - a view unspoiled, in some cases, by a door (so even if the toilet already hums a bit, the user needs to as well - and loudly). Fortunately, the one at the top of Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track has a door, as befits such a busy route: but it's also sort of a shame, because wouldn't you like to sit and contemplate a sight like this?

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