One of the things I first thought when we got our briefing about the trip to Skoura was: 'I'll never survive there!'. The teachers informed us about the area, the do's and don’ts and very specifically about one important subject: the toilets. Since this was the first time for me to go to a more rural place in Morocco, I hadn't really thought about the ways in which the bathroom ritual might differ from the one I'm used to.
New Bathroom Rituals
When we arrived in Skoura, we were divided in groups of three and met our host family. After a very long drive (but a very entertaining one, due to the improvised radio station by Judith and Omar) I was absolutely ready to go to bed, which means for me it was time for my 'bedtime bathroom ritual'. In my daily life, this consists of taking a shower, brushing my teeth and using the toilet (the one we're all used to). This proved to be quite different in Skoura. The bathroom was in fact a small room outside the house with a hole in the ground and a little tap for water, sometimes there was toilet paper, most of the times there wasn’t. There was no sink to wash my face, no mirror to check my looks and no warm water to take a shower. This required a little bit of adaptability on my part. After taking a lot of time in the tiny room which involved almost falling over whilst squatting, working out how to 'flush' the toilet (how much water should one use, from which height etc.) and other not so charming vicissitudes, I went to bed.
New way of working-out
The next day, I went to the Kasbah where we all had to meet so we would go to Souk-al-tneen (Monday market). That was when I noticed something quite peculiar. I saw a few Dutch people/Europeans walking quite fast (especially considering the fact that it was early, so a slow pace was expected), into the Kasbah, up the stairs and then into one of the rooms there. This ritual repeated itself in the evening and again the next morning. After deliberating the awkwardness, I decided to ask around about this phenomenon and found out that some of my fellow students used the Kasba's bathrooms to use the toilet and take a quick shower before our assignments! The bathroom ritual appeared to be quite an interesting subject of conversation, since most of us started talking about the ways in which they struggled with the hole-in-the-ground-toilet. Some of us even got a real and extensive explanation on how to use it from their host family! This proved to be a good subject for my own self-reflection in the sense that I started to wonder how it happened that the natural way of going to the toilet now seemed to be so difficult for me and most of my fellow students. Is it better or worse? Is it luxury or a decline of our primal skills? The only thing I know now is that it definitely was a good free work-out and (in combination with the amazing time we had in Skoura) a priceless experience.