Bucharest and Toilets
I decided to make this blog post public, perhaps against my better judgment, and perhaps to the ruin of my reputation in Romania…
Last week, most of us started having stomach issues. I don’t think it’s anything serious. I think maybe we just didn’t wash some vegetables well enough, or it could just be a normal stomach virus or something.
Anyway, through the process, I’ve learned that Bucharest, put crudely, is not a good place to have diarrhea. Not that any place is a good place for diarrhea, but if I had to pick a country to have diarrhea in, it would not be here. In picking a diarrhea-friendly locale, I would most likely go one of two directions.
1) The United States. Ideally, if you’ve got diarrhea, you want quick, easy, and free access to clean toilets and soft toilet paper. The US has this in spades. Let’s say you’re on the road and you realize you really gotta go. No problem, just find the nearest McDonald’s, pop in, and be treated to a kingly experience at the Great White Throne. Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and really gotta go RIGHT NOW, just stop in at any gas station. While the experience won’t be as regal as a McDonald’s, it’s free and accessible, so you really can’t complain.
2) Any war-torn third-world country. Not quite as nice as pooping in the States, but having diarrhea in a third-world country does have its benefits. Put simply, though there are few nice toilets, there are also few toilets at all, so, as my friends in Latin America used to say, “El mundo es mi bano,” or “The world is my bathroom.” So just go where you can and don’t worry about it. Besides, if you pick the right (or wrong) third-world nation, you might find yourself with diarrhea so often that it’ll start to feel ‘normal.’
Bucharest, unfortunately, seems to be somewhere in the gritty mess between the two of these. The other day, while riding around the city with Peter (the Sudanese pastor of Spiritual Revival Church) to get the last few forms we need for our Visas, I was hit by the stomach issues that the rest of my family already got.
Unfortunately, Bucharest failed to meet my urgent needs. There are plenty of good bathrooms here, but finding free ones is more of a challenge. I went from one to the next in hopes of finding something suitable to work with, but my search was in vain. The toilet in the doctor’s office had no toilet seat and no toilet paper. The bathroom at the mall looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in forever, and, besides, all the stalls were locked and there was a long line of people waiting to get in. The Immigration Office had the same problem as the doctor’s office – no seat, no toilet paper.
Well, I’ve probably completely disgusted you already, so I won’t tell you how the story ended. Let’s just say it wasn’t very comfortable but it got the job done. And I was really glad I had an extra notebook in my backpack.