When I came back from Nigeria at the end of 2008, there were some things I knew I’d do differently next time. Today I’m going to talk about the things I’ll bring with me next time to make bathroom-related activities more comfortable.
Both sides of my family come from extremely modest backgrounds. Today, neither of my grandparents’ homes have running water, so no flushing toilets or showers: the bathroom is a room with a hole in the ground, and baths are taken in another room where you draw a bucket or two of water from the well and act as your own shower. My morning baths were ice cold. It didn’t occur to me to boil some water and add it to my well water to make it a bit warmer like one of my smart friends who went to Naija last year did; I adopted the “When in Rome…” philosophy. It helps that it was very hot there so that ice cold bath was welcome.
I didn’t mind using the bathroom during the day but at night, it wasn’t uncommon to see a cockroach in the bathroom. They don’t attack or approach you in anyway but the moment I would see one, the urge to use the facilities would vanish and I’d scurry back to bed (and by “scurry” I mean squeal and run back to bed. My grandmother’s tenants, including the children, were very amused by me). Cockroaches and all bugs freak me out and more annoying is the fact that their presence is not always a sign that the conditions you’re in are dirty: if these pests are able to enter through drains or cracks in the walls, they will.
The following are the things that’ll make using the facilities that much more pleasant next time:
I’m talking about the moist paper towel-like things, like diaper wipes, and they were honestly one of the best things I brought. I wash my hands far too often, and having to get water from the well each time, or having to go to the back yard to get a scoop of water is not as convenient as being able to grab a wipe and and be done with it.
I’m going to look into antibacterial wipes for the next trip, that and plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (my new constant companion).
Toilet paper and paper towels
We brought this last time and I’ll just bring more. We didn’t run out but I firmly believe that you can never have too much of the stuff.
(Lots of) plastic grocery bags
One thing my sister and I had a hard time getting used to was the lack of trash cans around. This might just be in the neighbourhoods we stayed in but we were constantly looking for trash cans. We had a few plastic grocery bags that we made into garbage bins, but we quickly ran out. Next time we won’t.
Caddy/organizer for my eyeglasses, toilet paper, bath soap, shower gel, shampoo, etc.
I’m not saying this is a necessity, but if I could hook something over the door of the bathroom and reach for things in there as needed rather than patting the ground searching for my eyeglasses, that would be ideal. My vision is very poor so anything that can make the process of bathing easier is good in my opinion.
Bathsheets (versus thick towels)
Bathsheets rock because they’re large and cover all of you, but more importantly they dry faster than a thicker towel, which means I can hang them to dry in the bedroom and not worry about them remaining damp all day.
Back when I used to have a gym membership, I would sometimes shower after working out. It didn’t take me long to get myself a pair of waterproof flipflops that I keep on my feet while showering. It was natural for me to bring them with me to Nigeria and they really came in handy with all sorts of activities where your feet could get wet, including bathing.
Another must is disinfectant. In Nigeria we used Izal, which is similar to Dettol Antiseptic Liquid. It’s not cheap but it’s very effective: just a few drops in your water allows you to wash down the bathroom quickly and effectively and leaves everything smelling nice.
What are your “necessities”?