Ungracefully Phoebs: Oh the places I’ve peed!

Two Phoebe characteristics are that I need to eat frequently and I pee a lot. I have had difficulties doing both of those while in Uganda. Each day I spend some time worrying about when I might eat (in the U.S. I can’t go more than 3 hours without eating) and where I might be able to pee. At the start of each day I don’t drink any water because I am too afraid of having to pee a lot (another Phoebe characteristics is that I am always drinking water).

The past few days we have been in a few different villages and each day I have had a nerve wracking experience trying to find somewhere to pee without embarrassing myself too much.

Yesterday after hours of conducting interviews I asked someone I was working with where I could go to the bathroom (which I am always kind of embarrassed to ask for some reason). She asked, “will it be a short visit?” I replied “yes” and thought to myself “thank god!” She took me a very short distance away from where lots of kids and a few adults where hanging out and near the straw home where we were doing our research. There was a little tee-pee (pun not intended but have been wracking my brain for a way to describe, if only I had a picture…) stick structure covered on the sides by white plastic. The structure was open on top and only went up to my chest and was just used to enclose a small patch of dirt presumably where everyone peed. I saw a small tarp hanging across and mumbled about how to open it but my guide had already walked away. I decided my goal should be to be as fast and inconspicuous as possible because I felt close to people and right by other straw homes. I tried to pull the tarp across the structure as a door and it stayed up for one second and then just kind of fell on my back right as I started pulling my pants down. So, I squatted down in an open little dirt area with a tarp on my back pretending like no one could see me. One of my best skills is I am a fast peer so I decided to just go for it, finish peeing, ducked as I pulled my pants up, and stood up with the thought “nothing to see here.” I hung up the tarp and ran back to our interview location not even looking to see if anyone saw me. This time desperately pretending to be invisible.

Today I found a relatively okay bathroom (or hole in the ground) near a sub-county office in the village. Due to my fear of being locked in a bathroom, the heat and smell I always try to leave the door slightly open. When I walked into this one it was filled with flies. Not just the occasional few but so many I questioned whether it was safe to pull my pants down. I thought carefully about whether a fly could fly up my butt. I decided I was already in there and again peed super fast.

Later today, we were eating at a shack type place on the side of the road. One of the people I was with used the bathroom and returned saying she was surprised that the bathroom wasn’t too bad there. I felt slightly pleased that she also cared about this and it wasn’t just my cushy American concerns. The rest of the group I was with headed to the car and when I asked my friend where the bathroom was she pointed in a general direction behind the restaurant without other directions. I ended up in a courtyard with two cows and chickens (I didn’t eat any meat that meal but at least I would have known it was fresh). I saw doorways with curtains on them, but I was afraid of entering the wrong one and walking into someone’s home. I asked someone working in the kitchen who spoke no English where the toilet was and finally we used enough hand signals and I found a bathroom/hole in the ground across from the area the little cows were resting. The cows seemed perturbed by my presence. Again, I peed with the door slightly open with the hope only the cows could see me. As I speedily peed I could hear what to me sounded like irritated mooing. As I left the bathroom the cows started to get up and I again ran out of the courtyard trying to not disturb any person or animal.

I will never complain about a dirty gas st


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