What is living in Djibouti like? Here’s a slice of life.


Last night Lucy tried to save me.

We had been out all afternoon and were heading to church. I needed to use the toilet.

This can be a challenge in the developing world. Where are the toilets? I could step behind the gas station. I could just pee on the sidewalk, no shame, like the men I see do this every day. If I needed to drop a number two, I could also do that right on the sidewalk. I could even do that while begging for money from people walking by.

To Squat or Not

Okay, maybe I couldn’t actually do those things but I have actually seen those things done, just not by women.

So, what to do? There are some pay-to-use toilets of which I am, um, wary. I’m kind of a toilet snob, I guess. I prefer clean, smell-free, bug-free, stain-free, private, and I like to be able to wash up after. What a diva.

Usually when caught in this rather awkward situation, I head for a hotel, preferably the Sheraton or the Kempinski. I said to my husband, who was driving, “Take me to the bathroom at the Kempinski, I’ll even get some nice lotion in there.” Lotion! I know, big time.

He didn’t want to drive that far (about 1.5 miles). So we headed straight to church.

Lucy said, “Mom, don’t worry. There’s no toilet paper but the bathrooms are really nice at church. They even have toilet seats.”

Toilet seats! Luxury.

Unfortunately, the fancy toilets with the seats but no paper were locked.

No problem, there is always a squatty potty somewhere nearby. I used the one in the back of the compound. The floor was wet, there was nowhere to set my bag, it stank like, well, you can imagine. But I had paper, we keep a roll in the car at all times, and I had running water.

Paper! Running water! These things, too, were luxurious. It is all relative.