Monday, February 9, 2009


We were discussing toilettes yesterday. My feeling is that Ethiopia has some of the worst toilettes ever.

In Egypt, guys are supposed to squat to pee because peeing standing up is considered unhygienic under Islam. Also since Egyptians often wear robes, you can pee more modestly squatting. In Ethiopia on the other hand, guys consider it unhygienic to step in pee, so they stand just outside the bathroom door and aim from a distance.

The good news for me was that in Ethiopia you can buy the same Egyptian brand of tissue paper. It comes in a pack of 10 tissues. I carried one in my pocket at all times. Other people cannot afford tissue paper though so a lot of newspaper and leaves are used. Newspaper would clog up the toilette so you have to throw it in the garbage afterwards. If a garbage bin isn't provided, then you can just toss it on the floor. I tried to explain to that tissue paper was OK to throw down the loo because it was designed to not clock things up, but everyone was doubtful. Also if there is a garbage can brim full of used newspaper, you may as well throw your tissue in too.

Some places are maybe too remote for a daily news paper and maybe they're inside a courtyard so no leaves are available. In that situation the hotel owners are supposed to leave some water so people can clean up. Some hotel owners are lazy. You can tell which ones are the lazest by the number of poo smears on the wall.

Basically everyone has the same amount of poo on their fingers and everyone shares a common desire of not crossing with another smear as you wipe your hand on the wall. It sort of creates a pattern. So all across the toilettes of Ethiopia you find the same disgusting finger painted mural of prairie grasses waving in a cool Autumn breeze.


Leon said...

i laughed till i could not see

Kenton Williston said...

Wow, I am really missing out! :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! ROTFL! I laughed so hard I almost peed, but I wasn't close enough to the door of the bathroom to aim towards the latrine, so I had to stop myself!!!

Anonymous said...

Does everyone use the same toilet, or are there men's and women's? I'm wondering if there is a gender difference in the wall art.

Dan Carpenter said...

Very few of the toilettes were separated by gender. It was quite disconcerting at first to use the urinals. There may have been some toilettes that were for women, but in that case I wouldn't be able to comment on the art. :/ Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next post. How do you top this?