Thursday, August 13, 2009


As I walked down the stairs, poor lighting and an abundance of mirrors completely confused my internal GPS. I was only looking for the bathroom, but this could become quite the challenge. I saw the word “ladies” etched into the floor-to-ceiling mirrors (this was not terribly obvious in the dim lighting), and saw there was an overlap in the mirrors.

Then I found it: the most incredible bathroom I have ever been in.

As you walk in, there is a room with a square island in the center and floor-to-ceiling mirrors for walls. Each corner of the island has a above-counter sink, and everything is stainless steel and white porcelain. There is an arrangement of twigs and such that stretches to the ceiling in the center of the island. There are four doors around the room, and each of them leads to a small room with a toilet. Yes, a room, not a stall. Of course, it wasn’t huge or anything, but there was much more space and privacy than usual. There was a large mirror for changing clothes or check one’s hair. It felt…luxurious.

Of course, this effect may have been enhanced given the fact that, at the youth center, we have no running water. Relativity and all…

Bathrooms in foreign countries are an interesting experience. Sometimes there is an outhouse, and sometimes that outhouse has a door (I love those times!) Other varieties of lavatory facilities include ditches, holes in the ground, waterways, trenches, and “squatty-potties.” I am sure there are more, but these are just the ones I have personally experienced. There is also the variable of water usage and plumbing. I many places, you don’t flush every time you use the restroom, because the region is running low on water and you must conserve. Sometimes the plumbing is not able to withstand toilet paper, so it is thrown into a garbage can (an interesting experience in 110 degree heat).

Random fact: here in Namibia, all restrooms are referred to as “toilets.”

Incidentally, Josh had an interesting lavatory experience at N.I.C.E. as well, but if you want to hear about it, you’ll have to email or Facebook him.

Okay, back to the bathroom with rooms. It is located in the N.I.C.E. restaurant (Namibian Institute of Culinary Education, I think), which we visited for the occasion of Catherine’s and Heidi’s combined farewell dinner. It was an experience unlike any I have ever had (I don’t really get out much). The restaurant is located in a former home, so there are many rooms with 4 or 5 tables each. It’s all white linen and candles,; the food was alright, but the plating and atmosphere were wonderful. Let’s just say we were underdressed. [Whoa, have you ever realized how similarly the words “underdressed” and “undressed” are spelled? That could have been really bad.]

Here you go- you can see that we are both fully clothed. The pictures in the back are of their chefs out in the desert- they were great!

One funny experience from the night involved my dinner. Catherine and Kitty ordered the same dish as me, but asked for substitutions for the side dishes. When the food arrived, we realized that their orders were served complete, but mine (which I ordered directly off the menu) was missing the grilled cherry tomatoes meant to accompany it. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the tomatoes were half the reason I ordered my food in the first place. After some confusion in communicating the issue, my long-awaited tomatoes arrived:

Yes. I am not kidding you. There were 2 halves. That’s what I get for eating at a fancy restaurant!
[FYI, my fingernail was not painted gunmetal- it was a lighting defect.]
When doing what we do, it is sometimes difficult to remember a culinary world beyond PB&J sandwiches with kids while sitting on the ground. N.I.C.E. was certainly a special experience for us, but in the end I don’t at all mind going back to the kids : )


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