My encounter with a Ugandan toilet.

While traveling in Uganda to the town of Kabale, which is just twenty minutes north of the Rwandan border, I had an interesting encounter with a toilet. We were in this little town to see where Simon is from and meet some of the people who helped him along the way to being a part of our family. The visit itself was full of emotion that I haven't quite processed yet. But there is one story that stands out among them all, because it involves a commode, a pair of Crocs and me.

We met the head of the village in one of the hotels in the area for lunch before we set off to explore the town. There was a little language barrier there, but our hands were full enough with two squirmy one year olds that it was easy enough to overlook. I glanced over and noticed that the only food available was buffet style, so I handing Andrew over to Craig and slipped away to the bathroom before we dove into the Ugandan feast.

As always, I was armed with my Go-Girl, roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, never knowing what I might find behind the door of a Ugandan bathroom. I opened the door to the hotel bathroom and noticed that water covered the floor. This should have tipped me off that there would be trouble ahead, but I ignored this sign and headed into the stall. It was dirty, but no worse then any other American gas station bathroom, so I proceeded to relieve myself. After I finished, I turned around to flush the toilet. This was a simple enough act since everything else had gone pretty smoothly. My index finger reached up to the lever and gently pushed down. And then it happened.

Slow motion began the moment my finger touched that shinny silver lever. Time slowed to a crawl as the pressure of my hand flushing the toilet caused the entire tank to leave the wall and plummet to the ground. The white porcelain tank of water that appeared to be fastened to the wall shifted to the left and then fell to the cement, shattering into pieces as the water contained with in gushed everywhere. To my horror, all of that water started to flow towards me!

I quickly opened the stall door and hastened my retreat, all the while surveying the toilet I had just been using broken in pieces and soaking wet. How was it possible that the basic act of flushing a toilet would cause it to disassemble? For a moment, I freaked out at the thought of this unsanitary water that now came up to my ankles was rendering my shoes as trash fodder. And then I remembered that I had on my Crocs. Oh, the gratefulness of the Crocs!

I have been given some flack my some of my closest friends about how unfashionable this rubber footwear is and they would be right. Stealing from the SNL skit "Mom Jeans," my friend (who shall remain nameless) has said, "These shoes say, 'I'm not a woman, I'm a mom,'" These mary jane style crocs are not the most fashion forward things I have doned on my feet, but they have been judged harshly. The only reason I bought them was for my trip to Africa and after this incident, I am very, very thankful that I purchased them! These shoes have a special place in my heart since they were easily sanitized and worn every day after that for the rest of my month in country.

After leaving the stall, I quickly high-tailed it out of there, re-entering the hotel dining area. I looked around to see if anyone had heard the huge crash of the tank hitting the cement floor, but everyone seemed to not notice. I approached Craig and said, "Look at my feet." Everywhere I stepped, I left a puddle of toilet water. I walked past him, to the station to wash my hands and then on to the buffet, all the while leaving Croc foot prints. After we both had our food and during a lull in conversation with our Ugandan hosts, I quickly told Craig the story and asked if he heard anything. To my amazement, we hadn't!

I decided to not tell the staff of the hotel that the toilet had breathed it's last breath, for fear they would demand that I pay for it. There is a myth that is widely believed in Uganda that all muzungus are very wealthy. I, a muzungu married to a teacher, do not feel any obligation to pay for a toilet that was hanging on by some putty to the wall that happened to break when I grazed it. So I kept my mouth shut. Ate my food. And left the Highland Hotel with nary a backwards glance. 

This story will make me forever grateful for the toilets I find in most establishments here in the western world and the Crocs that walked with me through toilet water.

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