Okay, no, it’s not that bad. But it is funny. Maybe it IS that bad.
I’m in my third day in Nairobi without a shower. This is my third stay at my hotel (I am not going to name them to protect the innocent), whose staff is lovely beyond reason, but the various aspects of this aging hotel and its struggles to work as well as the lobby and the rooms look verge on the absurd.
When I first got here on the 26th, I collapsed with great gratitude on the big comfy bed, left the windows open and got eaten alive. That and a few other reminders that I’m no longer in Eugene. But then…
My first attempt at a shower resulted in water that was so hot, no matter what I did with the controls, all I could do was wet a towel, wait for it too cool down and do the best I could.
Which, given how beat I was, and how often I fell off the toilet falling asleep, while I dabbed at the dirt, means that I got a few spots on the towel black before crawling to bed to feed the aforementioned mosquitoes.
Speaking of towels, I told the front desk I would like an extra pillow and a towel. Two hours later, nothing. I went downstairs again because the phone in the room makes the voice so distant I can’t hear anything. Ten minutes later a man shows up with two pillows. I stifle a guffaw, give him a pillow back and ask for a towel. Ten minutes later he comes back with the towel, ostensibly for my very long hair. It needs a wash.
However, the water is still so scalding I can’t shower. I dab a bit more dirt off, slather deodorant over the last two days’ worth of deodorant and keep the van windows open to avoid killing my guide.
Then, the wifi. I have lost at least eight to ten hours of productive work time because of a weak signal, which is something you just get used to in Africa, depending on where you are. The signal would stick, go weak, then drop, and up and down the stairs I would go, begging for help. The help came, then went, like the signal. As soon as the help disappeared, so did the signal.
Finally, the staff, having handed out all the signal boosters to other guests, last night moved me to a Much Nicer Room. MUCH NICER ROOM.
I was so beat that I collapsed, sticky and dirty, into the bed.
Next morning, I turn on the shower. Not only is the shower head broken but there is no hot water at all. I think my first room used it all up.
I am out of time, dress anyway, head out. I’ll fix it later. Tell the front desk that the shower head is broken. They inform me that if I want hot water I have to flip the red switch. Who knew? Nothing is obvious to the uninformed.
I ask my driver to keep all the windows open and stay downwind of everyone. Even myself.
I come back today, head for the shower, the same shower head is in the stall. I flip the switch, which I was told means instant heat. Wait ten minutes, just in case.
Of course the wifi in this MUCH BETTER ROOM where I am closer to the hotel router still doesn’t work.
I disrobe, head for the shower. Not only does the shower head flood the floor just like it did the night before because nobody fixed it, there’s no hot water.
Instant hot water, my aging ass.
I dress, head downstairs. George, who has now spent more time in my room than my ex boyfriend did in fourteen years, runs up the stairs with me again. He brings towels to clean the floor. Fiddles with this, that and the other. He says this time it will work.
Okay. Then he heads downstairs and comes back up with a signal booster, likely pried out of the cold dead hands of another guest who either got scalded or frozen to death in the shower.
You think I am making this up.
You’d be wrong.
Okay, okay, I made up the part about the dead guest.
The signal booster works. Well, at least there’s that. He tells me to go enjoy my shower and he will bring up and install a new shower head.
I undress, head for the shower.
You can see what’s coming.
There’s no water AT ALL.
Not even a drop.
I tried to use the sink, but first, there is no hot water in any sinks, and second, well, there’s no water, at least in the shower.
I run downstairs again. I’ve run more damned stairs in this hotel than I ever did training for Kilimanjaro.
But wait, there’s more.
Did I mention how many times I locked myself out, because you have to put your card into a slot to have power?
Did I mention how many times I did that while not wearing a mask because, well because I’m jet-lagged?
Did I mention how many times the key I was given didn’t work and I had to run downstairs for a new one?
So I have a plan. I’m going to heat up some water in the kitchen sink. There’s no plug so I’ll have to use underwear. Then I can do a sitz bath in the kitchen.
Wait. There’s no water in the kitchen, either.
I’ll have some fruit.
Okay, I guess I won’t. The small refrigerator froze my papaya solid.
There was just this great heave and gurgling sound from the bathroom. Sounded like my father after a serious bean soup. I will hope that means that said missing water has made its way from Mombassa, where it lives (for the uninitiated that is a Karen Blixen line from Out of Africa) back to my shower, where, with any luck at all, it has been heated.
George was back a few minutes later. After a while, a great deal of fiddling, we had the water where I could take a shower. I was in there for about an hour. I look about 100 years old, which is about a year more than usual when I wake up in the morning anyway. At least I am clean, my hair is clean, and it may well be the only successful shower I have until I get back to Eugene.
Where the police could use me for riot control simply by walking in the crowd.