The Toilet


Other than being attached to the cabin, the toilet had most of the characteristics of an outhouse. That it was attached was a blessing as it avoided night-time sojourns traipsing across the mosquito-infested garden and coming face to face with other things that go bump in the dark. However, the receptacle of all our output was not a septic system. As it was explained to us, the solid and impenetrable rock upon which the cabin was built prevented such a solution. Rather a large rectangular plastic box (approximately 12” high, 12” wide, 24” long), half-filled with sawdust, was the custodian of all we gave. The box not being of infinite size, nor a black hole through which things dropped are mysteriously transported to some other galaxy, meant it needed periodic emptying. Into the sea.

This process of emptying required some thought and planning; more so than one might at first imagine. First, along the most direct path between the cabin and the shore was a cliff, about 10 feet high, difficult at best to climb down, nearly impossible to get back up. By attaching a sturdy cord, I was able to push the box over the cliff and retrieve it by pulling on the cord. Next was the question of timing. The best time to make the “drop” was at high tide as the box would land in water, not on the rocky shore, and the retreating waters (as low tide progressed) would pull the matter out and away from the shore.

Consulting the tidal charts we plotted out a drop schedule.

Another challenge we faced was to find sawdust to replace what had been dropped. After trying several places, one fellow guided us to his uncle’s sawmill, who gave us a large bag full, which lasted us the month. Upon reflection, and recalling outhouses of the past, I think I would have added some lime or possibly ashes from the fireplace after each use.

The sounds of our interactions with the toilet were different. Rather than the familiar splash, there was a slightly delayed and muffled thump. The toilet was also a breeding ground for flies, and hence the need for lime or wood ash. More on flies later.

The “privy”. The box was added as we both found the seat a bit on the tall side. The box was filled with wooden planks to make it sturdy.
Into the abyss
The sawdust used in the privy. To the right of the bag is a little door that when open provides access to the “box”
Looking over the cliff at high tide.


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