paul and i were standing in yet another never ending line one day in addis, and i was relating a story about my adventures in pumping public pit toilets for the state parks department. long story short: a freshly dead rabbit, an empty bottle of jack daniels, and a full bottle of mustard.
we couldn’t even stand straight, we were laughing so hard at the various possible permutations and scenarios that might have ended in the situation that i found myself in that day.
as the events of our lives unfold and prove to us that we will be experiencing things out here that just won’t happen anywhere else, the squares of our peace corps bingo cards start to fill up.
of course there is a disease category, and there has to be a hook ups category, and probably a random events category, but above all else, there must be a shint bet category.
i honestly don’t think you can call your service a success unless you have lost a cell phone or wallet down the hole of a shint bet, but (shint bet for toilet) you can do this quite easily anywhere in the world. therefore we must lay some groundrules. i think it is fair to say that you can’t start punching your peace corps bingo card until you have experienced the merkado bus station bathroom, and you can’t cash out of peace corps bingo until you have lost one or more important personal effects down the hole.
current pcvs have already set a pretty high standard by falling through the floor of the shint bet right down into the big steaming bet of shint below, as well as needing to rescue a cat who suffered the same fate.
don’t count g5 out, though. remember what i said about counting things out?
i for one, have recently acquired a skylight in my shint bet, and so glorious is this shint bet now, that i almost want to move my bed in. the amount of caffeinated drinks, and water my host family has me drinking before bed would certainly make it a practical choice as much as a comfort choice.
some say, however, that there are no original ideas.
so it is with living in the shint bet.
a coffee shop in iteya has a shint bet complete with live-in goat who watches you use the facilities. this wouldn’t be so bad if he would just put on a tie, and maybe offered you a mint or a hot towel when you were done.
tiggist has a shint bet with the hole placed so close to the wall that leaning on the wall would be unavoidable if the wall weren’t lined with barbed wire for some insane reason. perhaps to keep wayward volunteers and voyeuristic goats from moving in. i don’t know who would want to live in tiggist’s shint bet anyway. it’s so, how shall i put this? it’s so aromatic that it doesn’t so much have a smell as a flavor. it stings the eyes, and lingers on the clothes. tiggist’s shint bet is a full body sensory offense.
if tiggist has the most impractical hole placement then brittany takes the cake for smallest shint hole. the target in her bet is scarcely bigger around than a medium sized log (you know what i mean), and there is no dugout or “ramp” to guide things toward the void. in her favor is the very existence of that void. audley is not so lucky.
audley’s shint bet is far and away the shallowest pit, perhaps in all of ethiopia. each use brings new fear that you could be the lucky one to top it off. i employ no hyperbole when i say that his pit may have less than a few inches of clearance left before overflow.
on the subject of shint bet size, i can’t imagine that the men in this country pee standing up (except on the side of the road, which i see quite often) because i have come across no small amount of outhouses that are 5 feet high, or less. this forces either a squat pee or, like celeste’s neigbor, a standing pee, from outside the room. in his case, so far outside the room is he that he is not actually using the facilities so much as marking the doorway as his territory.
speaking of not making it to the hole, there are those among us who’s shint bet adventures didn’t quite make it to the shint bet, if you smell what i’m leaking (sorry, i had to do it). as someone who has (in the past, and not in ethiopia) had experience with serious third world gi issues, i can totally relate, and so i cast no dispersions on those members of g5.
sometimes it’s not about the shint bet, or the shint. sometimes it’s about what else is going on in there. one of us (who shall remain nameless as the events of this story are still hot off the presses) blacked out in the shint bet, fell and broke her nose. good grief! the comical possibilities of this have our creative team working overtime on the peace corps movie screenplay, but for now we will hold off on the jokes until everyone is healthy and regular… let me rephrase that: until everyone is back to business as usual.
on a lighter note, the shint bet at my house in masha was once a giant hole, but has now been repaved to be two regular size holes placed with ramps back to back. the purpose of this is beyond nikki, alex, and myself, but the girls have already workshopped the idea of using the facilities simultaneously while leaning back against each other, just to say they did it.
hey, why not? this is the peace corps, afterall, and the first thing you learn to share out here are shint bet experiences.
recently deanna pointed out that we know more about each other’s poop than anybody should be comfortable with. we’re family now, and poop is thicker than water…
it is if you didn’t eat the pizza at the king hotel that night, otherwise you might not be so lucky.
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stay tuned for our next episode:
it’s just… like… a naked cowboy falling from space, and in the background is flamenco sketches, by miles davis, for some reason.
easy listening: miles davis : flamenco sketches