Bathrooms (and Using Them) in Egypt

Have you ever used an airplane bathroom? A bathroom on a boat? How about on a train? How about an Egyptian train? How about an Egyptian train that, when built, had its tracks lined up by an army of blind people. Trains can get bumpy in Egypt. And when I was taking the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan, and then back from Aswan to Cairo, it was a 12 hour ride (each way). I couldn’t laugh at the time, but I’m close now. Let me give you a purposefully undetailed description of my pleasant bathroom jaunt.

I wake up. My nipples are hard. No they’re not. Where am I? I’m on a train, right. Where am I? Egypt, right. OK. Ow, my back. This mattress sucks. What time is it? 5 a.m. That’s, like, 11 p.m. in New York.


I have to pee. Yeah. Let’s do this. Sandals? Where are my sandals. Aha, there those little chestnuts are! Here we go, open the cabin door, and WOAH!

The train shifts heavily in one direction and throws me off balance into the window. 

How about that. Ah yes, to the bathroom I continue! I walk down the hall and open the bathroom door. The trashcan is overturned and a layer of black doom is covering every inch of this formerly pristine, beautiful bathroom. Perhaps I shall try the other bathroom? Indeed I shall. I back out, as if I was leaving the scene of a crime. I turn around, another door awaits me. I grab the handle. What’s behind door number two? It opens.

It’s no ivory palace, but it’s a step up from satan’s shithouse (door number one). I’ll take it.

Alrighty. I lift the seat up. I do this intentionally, since I want to set a good moral example. “You see, Americans lift the seat, even in Egypt, because we care!”

As my bladder starts to feel relief, my train decides it is time to dodge imaginary boulders on the track — that’s what it felt like. The first bump sends me wildly off balance and the toilet seat shifts — it’s thinking about falling down. This is not good. Before I have time to react, the train shifts again (dodges another imaginary boulder), again throwing me off balance and flipping the toilet seat from a standing, vertical position to a sitting position.

In an objective-achieving environment, this fulfills the goal of breaking my once-beautiful stream and splashing pee all over the seat, my leg, and of course, my khaki shorts. To hell with it: I finish.

Had I left then, this would have been my crime scene that I fled. I can’t. I seek out the white toilet paper of the heavens and begin to dry up my disgraceful splash damage. I imagine what this experience would have been like if I had a gun in my hand. This lightens my mood.

The place is basically clean when I realize my shorts are still wet. How should I clean…


Fuck it. I’m going back to sleep. And that’s exactly what I did, because I’m in Egypt (and that seemed like SOP here).


Pro Tip: When the going gets tough. JUST FUCKING GO.


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