013 – Tiru Gondar And The ‘Only You’ Bathroom
After breakfast I went back to the Palm’s small office to talk to the owner about my desire to find a quieter place to stay. I knew I just wanted to simply move next door to the Tiru Gondar Hotel, a place I’d seen the previous afternoon, but I didn’t dare go over on my own. I was afraid a chance misunderstanding could lead to bad feelings all round as had happened with Alfa.
I was very careful in how I brought up my desire to move out of the Palm. I explained that I very much liked the people at the Palm and everyone had made me feel welcome and at home. However, I simply couldn’t get any sleep. I left the rest open, hoping that the suggestion to find a quieter place would come from him and that either he would suggest the Tiru Gondar, or I could bring it up directly.
He was very sympathetic and not at all hurt that I wanted to move out. In fact I got the impression he and the ladies at the Palm were quite surprised when I’d shown up looking for a room in the first place. He hinted that the six rooms at the Palm Hotel weren’t really meant for an actual guest like me. They were there for customers of the bar to collapse in if they were too drunk to get home or more likely if they needed a place for a romantic interlude. The condoms used and unused scattered around like confetti were proof of that.
The manager of the Palm Hotel personally escorted me over and introduced me to his counterpart at the Tiru Gondar, a young and extremely eager man named Zebachew. Zebachew brought me to the end of a hall and into an immense room with couches and chairs, tables and a wardrobe. The ceiling soared 15 feet above me. One whole wall was practically all window looking out onto a grassy back yard where the family lived in small mud-walled structures. A thin brown and white cat meowed pitifully up at me.
Just outside my door was a short hallway leading to a full bathroom. My beleaguered intestines gave a little gurgle of pleasure. The toilet bowl (sans seat and lid of course) was still hooked up to an overhead water tank and did my eyes deceive me or was there a wire hanging down from a steel lever? No, it was true. Zebachew gave a proud tug and the toilet merrily flushed. Never has a happier man walked this planet than I at that moment.
The rest of the bathroom was standard-issue third world. A long out-of-service bidet sat near the door, its innards clogged with plastic bags to dissuade those who see bidet and think urinal (or worse). A bathtub dominated the other wall. A showerhead hovered overhead. It produced only the merest trickle of ice-cold water, which promised to make taking a shower a sweet agony. There was a sink, a broken mirror and a small shelf and towel rack. The sink was full of dirty standing water, but Zebachew ran the tap to show it didn’t matter. He picked up a rusty tin can and demonstrated how you bailed it out into the bathtub when it threatened to overflow.
This, Zebachew said, was my own private bathroom. I goggled in disbelief. No, it’s true, he said, and he illustrated how the key to room #5 opened not only the door to the bedroom but also the door to the hallway. The room, hallway and bathroom together formed a unit. My own private bathroom, I thought, as one of the ladies of the house pushed past me and closed the door. Don’t worry, said Zebachew. She is only fixing her hair. He pointed at the closed door and then at me. Only you, he said. You only. We both heard the toilet flush. Only you, he insisted again. She came out and an old man went in. The door shut again. Zebachew wandered off down the hall.