Saturday, December 13, 2014

Us vs. The Composting Toilet

Today we visited Ka'ala Farm for the first time after talking about going for nearly a year.  They were having a work day, and people from the community were invited to go there and engage in traditional Hawaiian activities such as making baskets and other items from coconut palms, pounding poi, and cooking traditional foods.  Unfortunately we didn't get to participate in any of those activities because there was a Christmas parade in town, and by the time we made it up the valley to the farm, all of what they were doing was coming to an end.  Nonetheless, we enjoyed good company and a wonderful experience in nature that I've been craving and look forward to having again. 

A view from the farm
During our visit we were given a guided tour around the property.  Our tour guide pointed out the shed that housed the toilets and let us know that they were the composting kind.  I thought that was pretty cool, and since I've never actually been in close contact with one, I wanted to check it out. In that moment, though, I didn't need to use the restroom, but I thought Noni did from the way she was squealing and carrying on. 
For those of you not familiar with composting toilets, I'll share this with you copied straight from Wikipedia:
"A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses a predominantly aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, via composting or managed aerobic decomposition. Composting toilets may be used as an alternative to flush toilets in situations where there is no suitable water supply or waste treatment facility available, or to capture nutrients in human excreta as humanure. (<<< new term for me)
The human excrement is normally mixed with sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss to support aerobic processing, absorb liquids, and to mitigate odor. "
Basically, it was a toilet seat mounted on wood, and that was positioned over a large barrel that was very deep .  Something like this but more rustic:
So, I commenced to removing baby's diaper and bloomers in order to hold her over the toilet.  While doing this, I still held the bloomers in my hand.  Next thing I know, they fell down into the barrel!  Turns out baby didn't have to pee, so I re-diapered her, sat down on the wood with her, and started to figure out how to approach this situation.  I could leave the hot pink bloomers in there and let everyone wonder how in the world they got there.  Or, I could get them out.  I preferred the latter, especially since, it had been recently filled up with wood shavings, and that's where the bloomers had fallen. 
I looked around for something to fetch them out with and spotted a broom in the corner.  This is where things got tricky.  I had to position baby on my lap securely while leaning over the toilet with the broom to reach down in there.  (During this time my man was outside the door asking if we were ok, to which I replied--trying not to sound like I was in distress--"Yeah, Babe, we're good!).  After attempting and failing three times (using the broom handle) I finally was able to get them on the next try. I wrapped them in something and placed them in my bag to wash later on.
I felt accomplished.
That was the first and last time she'll be wearing the bloomers. Not because they fell in a toilet but because I later realized...she's outgrown them anyway!  Next time, though, I'll find a bush our something to squat her behind.  Apparently I'm not coordinated enough to use such a toilet.

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