Kampala Bathroom Adventures

To give you a forewarning, this post is about poop. Not in serious detail or anything, but I feel that I’m doing you a favor by mentioning it up front. It’s a subject I deal with on a daily basis, as a major source of contamination of water in the developing world is from human and animal feces. But, poop isn’t all bad – as my colleague says, “Poop is power!” He owns a biodigester that traps methane from pig poop to be used as power. That’s the future, people! And, as I feel it’s my duty to give you the “real deal” experience, I am reporting my first eventful bathroom experience in Kampala. Today I had the pleasure of meeting up with my colleague and dear friend, so we made plans to meet at the Quality Shopping Centre in the Ntinda area of Kampala.

While waiting for my colleague to arrive, I felt a rumble in my tummy and knew I had to use the restroom. For some close friends, you may know that I often have stress-related bathroom issues and you can get more informed about that here. It’s a real thing! As it says in the article:

Your gut and your brain have an incredible connection, and that means that when something is wrong with your mental health, your digestive system will suffer.

Given the very nature of my last few weeks (preparing for the research trip, moving to Africa, leaving friends and family) it’s no doubt that I’m a bit anxious and stressed. So when I felt this movement in my stomach this afternoon, my mind instantly asked: “Where the hell can I go to the bathroom around here?” I was in the supermarket, and asked one of the employees who shyly shook her head, no. So, I asked “Where?”, and she kindly pointed me in the direction out of the supermarket, to the right into the shopping area. I swiftly located the loo and in a sad attempt, flipped the switches to no avail – no light. After a little more searching, I came across a stall that had a flickering fluorescent light bulb, success! But the worst wasn’t over quite yet.

I immediately realized sitting was not going to happen because there was no toilet seat – just the bowl, which didn’t look quite sanitary in itself. Well, no time to play games, just had to hover and do my business. Feeling much better post-bowel movement, I scanned the stall for a roll of toilet paper. Obviously, none. My leg muscles burned as I devised a plan. Using a ripped piece of the National Palace Pamphlet left over in my purse and some hand santizer, I wiped the toilet bowl down enough where I could at least sit down and think up a course of action. Using said National Palace Pamphlet and the water I brought along to drink, I was able to get myself to a mildly refreshed state.

As I left the stall and used some remaining hand sanitizer for my hands, I thought, I can handle you, Africa. Passing through the threshold a young boy requested the 200 Ush payment for using the toilet. I had to pay 7 cents for that? I placed the coin in his hand and walked off, making a mental note to have a constant stash some toilet paper in my backpack.

I hope this gives you some appreciation for the beautiful public bathrooms, sewer systems and wastewter treatement plants available in first world countries! Love your Charmin, cherish it!

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