“This is the renovated bathroom,” said Elke, our German hostess. The door had a wooden plank placed at head height, perfect for that midnight half-asleep knock on the forehead. The evidence of renovation was hard to find, the bathroom a nest of spiders and mosquitoes, the floor unfinished concrete and with large chunks missing from the walls. The toilet cistern was empty and the flush unreliable; water dripped from the shower and left the floor damp.
Elke had told us how she had visited a healer, who introduced her to friends and family, who then led her to this remote corner of Northern Kerela, where she had returned to help out because “I believe in what they do.” What, exactly, they did never became clear, but renovating bathrooms was obviously not on the list. Elke was continuing a long-running trend of “white people finding themselves in brown places”, she had the disposition of one who would not be hurried in anything.
We, however, hurried out of there quickly.