Tuesday, August 28, 2012
That's right, this post is all about shit. Actually, that's not true. There's also some mention of puke. So if reading about shit makes you want to puke, this might not be the post for you. I'm pretty sure no one's gonna actually read this now. But, I don't give a crap. By now you've probably figured out that I don't write what you want to read. I write whatever the hell I feel like writing about. Not because I think my shit don't stink, but because I don't like bullshit.
The one thing you learn when you travel is what really matters. And when you're standing in the middle of the Sahara Dessert soul searching it hits you. Holy crap! I need to shit! Like right now. Where is the nearest toilet? Bucket. Um, dune. Anything! Oh shit....too late. You've already had the epiphany. Toilets are the unsung heroes of civilization as we know it.
I think I had my first such epiphany in Russia. I'd travelled to Europe previously and done the unisex bathroom thing. Which is totally no big deal, especially because I grew up sharing a bathroom with 3 brothers and 2 sisters. I could care less who's in the stall next to me. As long as they give a courtesy flush now and again. In general, European wc's (don't call them bathrooms there cause they won't know what you're talking about) are well equipped. But, back in the USSR, things are different.
Many years ago, I was in a little town an hour north of Moscow and I had the urgent need to bake a loaf, so to speak. So I walked for blocks in search of a public toilet. And when I found one, it was a pay toilet, which is quite common around the world. I had no money on me at the time and had to beg for change until someone took pity on me and my bowels and spotted me a couple Rubles. A big Russian bathroom attendant lady guarded the door and the huge roll of scratchy brown paper you had to tear off on the way in. Which means you had to assertain (sic) how much you needed before you exported the cigar to Cuba. But in my haste and embarrassment I was modest, way too modest, in the amount I took. And when I made it down the stairs to the basement to the toilet, it was a hole in the floor. And that was the toilet. That I paid for. Rather, that stranger paid for. Beggars can't be choosers after all.
I thought I had experienced the worst international travel had to offer at that point. I was wrong. A few years later at an orphanage in Astrakhan, Russia, I needed make some mud. So I sought out the unitaz and was pleased when it looked all western with running water and a seat even. Jackpot. Until it was time to wipe. And there was no paper of any kind. None. Just a can of sticks with the tips wrapped in rags. And the sticks had names written on them. Thank god. This is when I deducted how the town must have gotten it's name, Ass-tra-can.
Then there's the time, again in Russia, where both Craig and I got the worst case of food poisoning ever. We didn't leave the hotel for 2 days, both of us puking and shitting our brains out. It was so bad, the one hotel room toilet wasn't enough for the two of us. After begging Craig to get off the toilet so I could use it, I almost sat on his lap so we could go tandem. Luckily, that was enough of a threat to get him off and not a moment too soon. The next day, we were so stir crazy we had to get out of the hotel room and go for a short walk. There were no toilets around, but, we were almost back at the hotel. And I almost, almost made it. Almost. But when pee is coming out of your poop shoot, and there's gravity involved, sometimes things just happen.
And I'm not just picking on Russia. There are lots of countries with shitty toilets out there.
There was that time I went to Greece. And everywhere I went the locals told me I looked Greek. Which has nothing to do with toilets. But, everything to do with the bullshit that they were feeding me to try to get me to buy souvenirs.
When I was in the middle of the busy medina in Tunisia, I got the urgent need to offload some freight. So, I began the frantic quest for a toilet, dragging the kids along. We asked around for a toilet and they added a cute sympathetic desperation to my plea. And it worked. A merchant kindly offered us his drain in the floor in the corner of his shop. I'm sure he assumed the boys needed to drain their lizards. But of course that wasn't the case. And I was so bad off that I actually thought about it for a second. But, it was the only drain he had and I didn't want to contaminate it. But, I will forever remember his generosity, as I hope he remembers mine when I painfully declined his offer.
And I can't neglect Morocco. Where there was also, you guessed it, a food poisoning incident. With some subsequent and unfortunate donkey riding. And an ass who might forever smell like shit. All the other donkeys will probably tease him now and call him shit head. Poor shit head.
Dude, if I have to, I could poop anywhere. Don't judge me. You could too, if you had to. And 40% of the world has to because they don't have access to toilets. And there is a huge sanitation crisis. Did you know there is even a World Toilet Day? I'm not shitting you. There is. So on November 19th, or really any time you're dropping a deuce and you're thankful there's a toilet to deposit it in, think about how lucky you are and do a toilet paper clutched fist salute.
Just don't forget to wash your hands afterward.