Thursday, September 5, 2019

the last book I ever read (What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché, excerpt eleven)

from What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché:

“The Americans did something about twenty years ago,” he said over the wind. “There was malaria, and they sent crop dusters to spray for mosquitoes. The malaria disappeared for a long time. After that, they wanted to clean up the country because there was so much dysentery. This is because the poor have no place but the fields to relieve themselves, as you have seen. They sent several thousand latrines they called portable toilets. Johnny on the Spot. They were blue plastic, with doors and ventilation, and it was explained to the campesinos how to use the chemicals to get rid of the waste. The campesinos live in houses made of mud and cardboard. One man said to me, ‘How can we live in a cardboard box and shit in a plastic house?’ So what do you think? They took apart the latrines and used the materials to make better houses. Even now, today, walking in the countryside, you will find the blue toilet seats scattered around.”

All of this was shouted as we drove with a jeep’s canvas roof rolled back.

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