Monday, October 12, 2009


Here are some pictures from my house. Welcome to life in Africa.

I have been wondering how to express the stench of the latrines. Then we read this in African Literature. I apologize if it’s crude.

From Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek pg 46

The stench from the urinal is thick!

It hits your nose

Like a blow,

Like the horn of a bull rhino!

You choke

Your throat pains sharply

You get out quick

And shout a curse!

The stench from the latrine

Knocks you down, from afar!

You enter;

It is as if you have entered

Into a lion’s mouth.

The smell of Jeyes

And the smell of dung

Rise to the roof.

I don’t think it is as bad as described here. The stench can be pretty intense at times though. Luckily the latrine isn’t really a fully closed in area (there are cracks in the walls and door—and ventilation), so air can move through. We have two latrine stalls at our house.

This is the lovely latrine. The piece of wood sits over the hole when not in use. Although the handle is broken now, so moving it is tricky. And kind of gross. If you look closely you can see my little friend the cockroach hanging out near the bottom left corner of the hole. We had no electricity that evening (which happens often) and so there was no light coming from anywhere (because I also had my flashlight off so I could take the picture) so it was a pleasant surprise that the cockroach decided to join the photo. It just made for a more authentic latrine picture I think. There are hundreds of them that crawl around inside the latrine. I don't know why this one decided to venture out of his stinky home and join me. I think right after I took the picture I kicked him into the hole anyway. He got his 5 minutes of fame.

This is my bathing room. Also where I brush my teeth. The drain just goes through to a pvc pipe outside into a plastic jar called a jerrycan. I use the water bottle to the left to rinse my hair. And the green basin is also used when I do laundry. We have an inside and outside bathing room, but I always choose the inside one.

Here's a little lizard. The other evening there were about 5 of them hanging out on a wall in our house. They like to scurry around and eat bugs. Usually there is at least one on the wall every evening.

This is my bed, with my green mosquito net. At the foot of my bed is a shelf structure that holds the trunk they gave me for my valuables. To the left of that along the wall are where my clothes hang, and on the floor to the right of my pillow is where my suitcase is that has some extra clothes and my shower things. The other part of the room has a 3-bed bunk bed where my sisters will sleep if they are home on the weekend, and their clothes are hanging along the other wall.

I made chocolate chip cookies one evening. They tasted kind of like pancakes, but were very good. They were cooked on a frying pan.


Neffy said...

Wow, thanks for posting these pics. I'm off to Uganda for 6 weeks on Sunday and have been wondering what the latrines actually look like! Yours looks quite 'clean' - I hope mine is too!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love everything about this post, especially since you have a poem for how stinky the squatty potty is :) This seriously just made my evening!


abbi stern said...

awesome insight on the basics of life! thanks!