Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I linked to this blog today through another blog which I had linked to through another blog, etc.
Anywho, I love reading Kenyan blogs because it gives me this teeny little bit of a feeling of still being connected to what is happening over there, NOT the big news stories, but the seemingly dumb and insignificant sh8t that completely dominated our lives when we were over there. My fellow students and I used to laugh - it's really not all AIDS and's whether or not you could get a Tusker baridi at that bar or whether sign-language man would corner you at the bar in Kimana or whether the lady with the sweets would be a the market in Oloitokitok so you could buy some damn HobNobs.

That's probably why I find this reflection on Kenyan public restrooms rather hilarious. I can't remember any that were particularly "awash" though I do recall I'd go just about anywhere if I was intoxicated enough, which in social situations away from school, I often was. Though I will admit in national parks or other seemingly unpopulated areas where it was deemed appropriate/acceptable/wildlife free enough to piss outside, I often took that option, much to the delight one day of some children around Kiserian-way who stumbled upon a mzungu lady with her skirt hiked up in the bushes. I had to let them observe as they did not speak enough english or me speak enough swahili to get them to go away (without being rude - "shoo" and "go away" are things you say to dogs, not people!) and reassured myself that their mindful watching probably had a scientific basis to it all.

I remember taking pictures of some of the bathrooms I visited and showing my friends back here in America. I remember a couple of people looking at this and saying "but it's a hole in the ground"

To which I replied "I didn't take pictures of the ones that were holes in the ground."

Actually a pit choo, or a long drop or whatever, is seriously not that bad. Some of them even have guides on where to put your feet. As for a place to put your purse, I did like Aunt Elinore taught me "When you're worried about your purse, put it around your neck." Of course she meant in situations where you were nervous about being robbed, but I feel like the advice is pretty universal to all purse situations. A lot of the bathrooms are dark too. Sometimes I took these moments for a bit of quiet introspection, a minute away from the chaos of whatever was happening outside. I mean, if it didn't smell too bad that is.

I think the trick to navigating the public restrooms of Kenya is just to be prepared. Have some tissues, be ready to use your balance, have a bag you can put around your neck, have some purell, and be ready to pee outside if necessary. That's all. If you keep those things in mind, you'll probably have a fine old time and save yourself the trouble of looking for the bathroom Jane Seymour used to conduct lady business (read following post).

Here's the post from Rafiki Kenya:

"Awash in human effluvia"

The Bathroom Diaries lets you search through lists of more than 12,000 bathrooms all around the world. Each entry gives the restroom stars for cleanliness, safety, accessibility, aesthetics, facilities etc.

I was quite amused to find the following entry on the Nairobi page of the site:
Modern Green Day and Night Bar, Latema Road
Rating: Horrible
Hours: 24 hours
Gender: long drop
Fee: Free
Comments: May have had running water at one time. Virtually awash in human effluvia. Whilst labeled gender specific, in actual fact men, women and ?? all come and go as they please. Also used for sex by the resident prostitutes. Quite simply, the most disgusting toilets I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.
Although this may look funny at first, it does not really portray a good image about Kenya, does it? Fortunately, there is also a restroom in Kenya which is rated as excellent, namely the one at the Norfolk Hotel:
Norfolk Hotel, near the University
Rating: Excellent
Hours: 24 hours
Gender: Western
Fee: Free
Details: clean, safe, celebrity sightings: Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn) was seen using this restroom.
Comments: The Norfolk is one of the main stopping points for tour groups heading out to the game preserves. The restrooms are just beyond the main desk. Just walk in like you are staying and you'll be fine.
If you happen to find another excellent washroom in Kenya, feel free to add it. It could help rebuild our image abroad while giving fellow Kenyans some good tips.


Amy said...

Um, I want to use the same bathroom as Dr. Quinn! LOL. Obvi it must be awesome, then!

everything and nothing said...

I am a bit puzzled by "Gender: Western."

Al said...

Amy - yeah I know. It probably smells like an English rose, LOL.

E&N - I found this confusing as well, lol. I think maybe they should use "style." It seemed like they were trying to find a polite classification instead of just getting right to it and being like Style: Literally a hole in the ground into which you do your biz. Heh.

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