Young Americans

Today we were to fly, yet despite having drunk the rehydration salts, and guzzling the anti-biotics and spasmodics I was still feeling queezy to say the least. Dr Bob was detained in Kilondoni by a Caesarean section birth, and we had to decide whether to stay another day or leave on our allocated flight. I was keen to leave, although I think the hotel would have let us stay on for free. But better health care exists in Dar Es Salaam than on Mafia Island, plus we had things to take care of in the North.

The time drew near, and I decided we should go for it. Dr Bob arrived and suggested I take a Loperamide – a blocker – for the journey. I took it. We said our farewells to the hotel (I bear no grudge, it is a good place, and they were keen on hygiene, but these things can sneak through no matter what you do)

The drive to Mafia Airport was extremely bumpy. Every corrugation made me brace myself for a dreaded flush, but the blocker held fast, and after an hour of holding my breath and my belly we arrived at Kilondoni.

At the airport I needed to toilet badly. I was rushed through to the departure lounge (full of dewy eyed American J Year students lounging around like in a Tommy advert) and shown the toilets. I selected the one marked Male, and then opted for the sit down rather than the squat. I wasn’t sure how long I might need to be there, and I wasn’t feeling particularly strong in my calves and thighs at that time. Surprisingly enough what passed wasn’t shocking or dreadful. I won’t give you any details.

What was shocking and dreadful was that the toilet door had developed that fault where the handle on the outside turns the bar, which slides the latch, but the handle from the inside no longer makes the required contact. It merely gives the impression of working due to the spring mechanism still being intact. Like one of those human mouse traps – you can get in easily, but you can’t get out on your own. I sighed, took a breath and tried again, watching the latch through the catch to see if there was any movement. Perhaps if I shook the door a little the bar inside might just slide a milimeter enough to engage.

I started knocking on the door. “Hello!”



I paused, and looked around me. I saw louvered windows, and wondered if I was going to have to slide the louvers out of their metal clips and collect them together, then climb out of the window and present them at the front of the airport – “Your toilet door is broken sir”.

I turned around and started hammering on the door with my fist. “Hello”. “HELLO!”. I could hear American laughter in the waiting room. Were they laughing at me? “Is there anyone there?”. “Is no one going to come?” “HELP!”

Eventually a Tommy came and I told him the door was bust, and I needed him to open it from outside. “We didn’t hear you” he said. I stormed out into the waiting room. A scene of pretty American’s pop quizzing each other on aquatic life in the Indian ocean, in their large number unaffected by the surrounding environment or its other inhabitants.

I stormed through to the check in desk, and insisted that the man accompanied me to the toilet. “I see” he said unconvincingly.

Back at the security check the man scanning our luggage said “What do you think of Tony Blair?”

Read on


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