One Toothbrush. And King Penguin And Goose Poo. A True Tale Not For The Faint Of Heart

my first visit to the falkland islands was one full of preparation, inspiration and perspiration.

or so i thought.

the inspiration was the dramatic beauty and isolation of the land. the kindness of the people. and all the wildlife…which seemed to be everywhere.

the perspiration was the extensive walking, hiking and climbing over miles long empty beaches, steep green grass and tussock grass, diddle dee (yes, there is a shrub called diddle dee…which by itself makes it worthwhile to visit the falklands) and rock cliffs.

the preparation was almost perfect…except one small thing.

which brings us back to the one toothbrush reference above.

i brought one toothbrush with me…to of course brush my teeth.

and one day on this trip, i found my clothes and my boots and my camera gear fairly well covered in penguin and goose poo. for those who are not literally hands on familiar with these excrements….let me share some fun facts.

fresh penguin and goose poo can be quite wet, squishy and smelly. and really super fresh stuff is disgustingly disastrous and dangerous to one’s olfactory senses.

plus fresh poo does not come out of fleece. let me repeat. it does not come out of fleece.

and for me, i really, really prefer to photograph wildlife while laying down and rolling around on the ground….so i can get a better perspective on the wildlife…and in some cases make the penguins look like super heroes.

which they are to me.

that said, when you roll around on the ground. you are bound to get covered in this poo. yes it it’s true that one can avoid fresh poo by either standing up to move around or by moving super slowly on the ground. but neither one of these options work for me. because then i would miss a lot of magical moments.

and letting something as unimportant as poo get in my way of getting the shot.

so with this crucial context…here is what happened to me.

on my first day at volunteer point….my boots and clothes got covered in this fine, fresh poo. and my olfactory senses went into a fight or flight mode. so when i got back to my room… i absolutely knew that i must clean out all the packed in poo from my boot treads.

the question was how to best do this surgery? first i tried washing the outside of my waterproof boots with scalding hot water.

that really did not work.

then i look for some tool of some sort to scrape the stuff out…and in a way that i could do so quickly as my nasal passage way would stop burning from the pain of the poo.

then i realized that i could scrape it all out under the running water if i used one of my toothbrushes.

read that last sentence again. one of my toothbrushes. as in a “plural” amount.

i thought to myself…that is a genius idea. this way i can really get into all of the treads and make this pair of disaster zone boots into a pair of relatively pristine, pure and poo free boots.

so i started scraping. and digging. and brushing like crazy. and THE PLAN WORKED!

hooray for me and my boots. and my nose.

then…i decided to shower. and then i decided to brush my teeth with my “other” toothbrush.


then i found out that my preparation for this trip DID NOT INCLUDE A SECOND TOOTH BRUSH.

yeah. you can re-read that again. or just read this…


and the nearest store was a flight away.

so….i turned on the hot water in the shower. and hoped it would turned to scalding hot water. i wanted the water so hot that it could have boiled warts off a frog. assuming this would get rid of the warts and not hurt the frog.

anyhow, you get the point.

then…after softening the ubiquitous poo– i had to use my fingernails to scrape and dig into my one and only toothbrush–that was encrusted with king penguin and goose poo–until almost all of “it” came out.

yeah. that was little fun.

what was even less fun…but dramatically more funny…was that i then had to brush my teeth with the same toothbrush.

yup. imagine that.


so now. i always pack a second toothbrush. and for good measure, i even leave it in the original packaging…so i always know which is the new and unused toothbrush. just in case i run into another self made crisis.

May 16, 2016
Roger Fishman
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