I promised Cheryl that, if she paid my EWB membership fee for me, I would tell her the story of how I flooded a Filipino bathroom. My third day here. So since she came through on her end (with indecent haste, I might add), here’s the story:
First though, you should understand that when Sara brought Martin & I to this family resort for a few days of SCALA coaching, my eyes just about dropped out of my head. It’s in this tiny village, down a dirt road that ends in a black volcanic sand beach. There were palm trees and frangipani in the garden! We sat in a nipa hut (the traditional Filipino thatched roof hut) to do our work and went swimming in the ocean during the day. I definitely felt conflicted about being there – on the one hand, it was definitely within our stipend, and we got to know the family kids really well. We were invited to their graduation from Vacation Bible School and met all the neighbourhood kids. We also needed a place where we could work. On the other hand, it felt too much like pampering.
Our in-country training
Nonetheless, it was a good quite place to work. And make a bit of a fool of yourself. Here’s some facts about Filipino “comfort rooms”. The toilets aren’t flush, instead you dip a cup into a bucket of water, which is generally standing under a faucet in the stall, and pour it into the bowl to flush. It works pretty well. They’re connected to septic systems that can’t handle toilet paper, so you have to throw your toilet paper in a small bag or garbage can provided. The bucket plus toilet plus garbage can take up quite a bit of room. The toilets usually don’t have toilet seats either, just the bowl rim. So all this explains why, when I was perched on the edge of the toilet I brought my hand down to the bucket to steady myself. But I missed the bucket, and caught the faucet, which fell out of the wall with a clunk and left a jet of water shooting over my knees. So I did what any clearheaded person would do – I tried to push the faucet back into the wall. That didn’t work but I did soak myself with the resulting spray. Then I stuggled to pull my sodden pants up from around my ankles, and rushed out of the rapidly filling bathroom. Straight into a group of girls from the bible camp waiting to use the washroom. I tried to be calm.
-“Um, where’s your counselor? The person in charge?”
One of the girls looked at me, my dripping wet hair, and the water streaming out of the bathroom.
-“Uh-oh,” she said.
-“Yes, uh-oh. But the person in charge? The boss?”
I found the handyman. He didn’t seem to bat an eye when I explained that the water needed to be turned off to the bathroom right away, or when he saw the mini waterfall cascading over the step. He might have, but I don’t think I was picking up on Filipino body language yet :)