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At home with the kids

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Watching the show

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Africa's worst outhouse

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Unexpected house guest

HOME SWEET HOME   ...........  My neighbors watched the house and me very well.   The first home had occasional electricity, but it was at the end of an illegally tapped line.  There wasn't even enough power to run a tape recorder.  I knew for the second place I should move closer to the power company.  I found the perfect home in a section of town that had never had a white person before. 

I was the neighborhood entertainment.   It didn't matter what I was doing -- brushing my teeth in the bushes, eating a grapefruit, or washing dishes.  There was always somebody ready to watch the Peace Corps show.  I learned that I never wanted to be famous.  Two years of being a local celebrity was enough. 

My new home had indoor plumbing.  I was in heaven.  If I had to get up in the middle of the night with diarrhea -- and I did -- I didn't even care.  I don't want to talk about rushing to an outhouse with a diarrhea attack.  And, my first home had the worst outhouse in Africa -- possibly the world.  My friends knew to go to the bathroom before they came to visit.  It only took one visit to learn that lesson.

The outhouse was a two-roomer.  One door locked so I used that side.  The room without a lock was for the neighborhood.  My side wasn't as bad as the public one and there were still a million huge roaches in it.  Once, my guests decided drastic measures were needed.  They had a can of insecticide tossed into the pit.  All million of those roaches poured out onto the grass and died.  And if all this wasn't bad enough, the outhouse wasn't stable.  You never could be sure if it would really support you once you sat down.   I kept the door ajar and my hand on the door frame just in case.  And then, in the rainy season, you had to be quick or there was a back-splash! 

Once as I cleaned house I almost picked up a rag in the corner, but remembered I didn't own any rags.  On closer inspection, it was a scorpion!  I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a Tupperware dish, slapped it over that baby, and slid the lid on underneath.  I kept it there for a month to make sure it was dead and then I took pictures.  Some people had diamonds in Liberia, but I had spiders, snakes, cockroaches, and scorpions.

Copyright 1999 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.