The Bog, John, Dunny, Jazz, Crapper, Potty, Can, Sh!tter, Lavatory, Loo, Water Closet (WC). There are many more, in English, but obviously every other language has its own variants too.

latrine in the namib desert with red dune in the background
Dune 45, Namibia

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Of all the facilities every person, and traveller, will have to make use of, in some form or another, is the humble toilet. Sometimes there just isn’t one and you still have to go, such as in the middle of the desert on a group safari tour without so much as a rock or bush in sight to hide behind, or you are on a mountain trek, or worse case scenario, in the middle of a major European city and you don’t have cash on you to pay the toilet mafia to use the ‘public’ facilities. If you’ve ever been to Europe, or you live there, you will know what I’m talking about.

colourful mens urinals that look like hippos with their mouths open
They don’t bite, Rainbow Lodge, Namibia
2 wooden latrines with mountains and glacier in the background in canada
Athabasca Glacier, BC, Canada
open air porcelain flushing toilet surrounded by cactus
Camp Itumela, Palapye, Botswana
2 wooden latrines in canada next to a frozen lake
Manning Park, BC, Canada
wooden latrine in the hills of greece
Liveloula self sufficient organic growing community, Seliana, Greece
wooden latrine in the forrest in canada
Route 6 Campground, Cherryville, BC, Canada

But for the most part, any seasoned traveller will develop this sixth sense of when is, or is not a good time to go. This all depends on the availablity of facilities, or the cleanliness thereof. What most often inspires me to use a particular throne is the novelty, design, or location. Even if I don’t have to go urgently at that time, I’ll install myself anyway just to enjoy the view. I guess it’s the one thing women will never quite understand…the reason men sit so long. Maybe it’s the one place we get our best thinking done.

man standing in front of latrine in the forrest
Route 6 Campground, Cherryville, BC, Canada

The Humble Toilet, A Place of Great Thinking


2 tin latrines in the mountains of lesotho
Malealea, Leshoto

Over the years, many people have contributed to the design of the camode as we know it today. One person who made a significant contribution, along with his name, was none other than Thomas Crapper who invented the floating ball cock, the thing that automatically fills the cistern with water. His name was emblazoned across the cast iron tank which, back in the day, was higher up the wall, pretty much at face level. Apparently, American service men stationed in England during WW 1 coined the phrase “‘I’m going to the crapper”. Born in Thorne, Yorkshire, UK in 1836 Crapper founded Thomas Crapper and Co, the company that owned the worlds first bathroom showroom in King’s Road, London until 1966.

half a car used as a latrine in the desert
Yuri Camp, Middle of Nowhere, Namibia. “Dude, where’s my car?!”
wooden latrine in desert with view on red dunes
Dune 45, Sossusvlei, Namibia

Now the more I travel, and the more the earth is populated, the more I appreciate the need to dispose of ourselves properly. It is possible that a lot of people might never give any consideration to where their crap goes after they flush, but they should. Maybe the origin of the water used to flush said crap is another important consideration, unless you are using a filthy pit latrine like many people in various locations around the world. Perhaps the next time you assume the position, you can give a thought to the millions of people who don’t have the use of a suitable facility.

latrine in desert
Spitzkoppe, Namibia
roll of toilet paper hanging on a branch in the bush with spade standing by ready for use
Okavango Delta Bush Toilet, Botswana

What’s the purpose of this article? I’m not entirely sure, but seeing as there is so much crap on the internet anyway, I thought I’d keep up the trend. Pun intended.

PS: I should also add that every one of these fine specimens featured in this article was personally used by yours truly.

Feel free to list other names for the toilet, in your language, or tell of your most memorable experience on one.

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