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Toilets, toilets, toilets

By on June 3, 2011 in Ethiopia with No Comments


To our delight (not) we discovered that on our return trip to Dubai from Rwanda we were scheduled for a 13 hour layover in Addis Ababa – our least favorite city. Ide had the clever idea that as we had to be there anyway we may as well take advantage of the one good thing about Ethiopia, and go back to the Best Restaurant Ever, otherwise known as Habesha Restaurant. We arrived in Addis at 6am, so first order of business was to get some coffee. Next on the list was to find a toilet. So this brings me to a defining characteristic of Ethiopia: The toilets are awful!  Here are three examples:

Random cafe

Entered for a coffee and asked if they had a bathroom. Everyone pretended not to know what I was talking about. They got the manager who I guess understood, but they all burst into laughter and pointed at me – and not in a friendly way. Eventually they sent me to the men’s bathroom, which I guess they thought was terribly amusing. Sticky, gross, no water (in toilet or sink), and no toilet paper.

Kaldi’s Coffee (fake Starbucks): 

Had a bathroom for customers. Asked cleaning staff for toilet paper. Pretended to not know what I was talking about. Went back to cafe where Ide asked for serviettes, which they did not understand, napkins, which they did not understand, and finally paper towels, which they understood. Had to discreetly secret them into purse and return to scene of crime. No light in toilet. No lock on door. Had to sit in pitch black with one hand hanging onto toilet seat, stretched forward with one hand on door handle to keep door closed, trying not to pee on myself. No running water for toilet or sinks – and our bacterial soap of course in lost luggage.

Airport Toilets

Now you would think that an international airport, in a city with 120 NGOs and head of the African Union, would have decent facilities. Yes, they had lights in the toilet. Yes the water was running.  No, no toilet paper, but on asking, cleaning staff procured a half used roll that looked like it had been dropped in water – but at least they had some. So good so far. But what cinched the prize for Worst Toilet Ever, was that as I went to put the seat down, which I presume was up because they had just cleaned it, I noticed a two inch mass of what looked like black curly pubic hair completely covering the hinge of the seat. Blughhhhhhhhhh!!!

The Addis airport is full of contradictions. Besides the fact that using toilet paper is unheard of and the entire airport is cigarette friendly, we noticed instead of using a lawnmower they had hired half a dozen men to cut the grass in front of the airport … with hand scissors. So you would think that it’s pretty backwards, yet the whole airport had free high speed wireless.

Outside Habesha Restaurant:


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