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  • I can be a sarcastic person. But I want you to believe me when I tell you that I developed a sincere love affair with a World Bank Toilet during my field research. There is no sarcasm in that statement and I'm not even kidding. Here is our story...

    I'm going to go ahead and put it all out there the way it is. When you decide to do fieldwork in a tropical forest, there are a few things that will ultimately be a part of your experience. Malaria meds that make your hair fall out. A complete lack of toilet paper. Soggy feet issues. Infected mosquito bites. Intestinal pain that will bring you to your knees and find you writing poignant goodbye letters to your loved ones. You might even find yourself eating pork skin with the black-bristly hairs intact (And you had better smile while you swallow...hey, I'm just letting you know what to expect). This being said, the experience will be more than worth it...I promise. In my situation, the positives and surprises far outweighed the bad.

    Now back to the toilet. The first time I visited village "W" in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia- there was no toilet. No problem. The river becomes familiar... And that is all I will tell you about that. On the other hand, I sort of garnered a great deal of attention from the villagers every time I sneezed, laughed, spoke, slept, smiled, cried, ate, snored etc. Privacy was impossible. And I was ok with that, most of the time.

    The second time I visited village "W", the World Bank had decided that this particular village needed a proper toilet facility.

    Now you and I may have a million opinions about the World Bank. Some of these opinions are more informed than others. But I am telling you right now that this particular World Bank investment was completely brilliant. For the first time in 7 months, this girl had privacy. Priceless.

    HOWEVER- The first time I tried to use it, there was a problem. And here we go...

    So, this little blue building saved my life and was the source of some HYSTERICAL stories. ...I'll share one of them now:
    I like to think of myself as "conversational" in Bahasa Indonesia. Well....sort of. Anyway, this toilet was obviously new to this community. A novelty. In any event, one of the community's more esteemed elders came to speak with me one night. We were conversing at the home of the village head. After several hours of crazy interviews, this person excused himself to use the brand new WB restroom. A rather important event. SO, a few hours later I excused myself for the same purposes. I discovered that our visitor didn't quite understand how to flush the toilet. I needed help because the situation was a mess. I didnt know how to express the situation. SO, what I wanted to say was "somebody took a poo, and I cant flush this mess". Trying not to be rude I said (in Indonesian), I said "some gracious person has left a huge gift in the World Bank (Bank Dunia) toilet!!". About ten people came to figure out what the strange American was yelling about. Needless to say, there was laughter wherever I went for about a month.

    I still have so much affection for my World Bank Toilet.
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