Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Poopman Cometh

So I'm back in the good ol' U.S. of A, and it feels great. Don't get me wrong, I miss TEMA dearly, but I'm also glad to be back, and happy to be on my way to getting this cycling season a'started! But first, some tales from the road. I have a backlog of stuff to clear, so here it goes:
Let's begin with a bit of humor, shall we? Let's begin with a topic that for some of you (the more infantile) counts among your top-five favorite topics to discuss: poop. We all have our own tales of intestinal distress, many of them supplied by the perils inherent in international travel, but there's one thing we can all agree on: diarrhea is awful in the present, but fucking hilarious after the fact, especially when it's not happening to you. Well liquid-shit fans, buckle up – this story is for you!
We begin in El Salvador. I awoke near a beautiful, tiny crater-lake with the need to relieve myself at the forefront of my mind. My intestines had recently been relatively cooperative, so I headed to the insanely revolting nearby potties without fear (or forewarning) of what was to come. The shitters near the lake were pretty repulsive – picture strange openings that resembled Forest Service shit-buckets, only much smaller, and covered in human feces – so I carefully hovered my ass over the opening and was disappointed to learn that I had the runs. Ten minutes later (and every ten minutes after that for close to an hour) my butt was again the victim of unholy liquid violence. By the time we left the lake, I'm pretty sure my anus was dry-heaving like a freshman frat-boy on pledge night.Uggggh.
"This is no big deal," I told myself with confidence, "I've had diarrhea before on this trip, and Immodium cleared it right up." Little did I know....
I popped two caplets, and drank some salt-water to replace my lost electrolytes. I also took a valium; we had a long drive ahead of us, and I needed to rest. We packed up the bus, and headed north, towards Guatemala. For most of the thirteen-hour ride I lay, curled in a ball, drifting in and out of sleep. Whenever we'd stop, I'd amble to the restroom and without fail, shit my brains out, the Imodium having no noticeable effect whatsoever. I counted a total of ten episodes that day, and by nightfall, my body's failure to absorb nutrition was beginning to show; I was starting to feel weak and achy.
We were supposed to drive all the way to Lake Atitlan that night, but in classic TEMA style, it took us an order of magnitude longer than we'd planed. Earlier that day, we'd said goodbye to two of our best drivers, leaving us with exactly two people capable of driving the bus at night, one of whom was drunk (Tony), and the other (yours truly) was debilitating sick and possibly still on valium. By sunset, we'd made it into Guatemala, but barely. We refueled the bus in a border town. With daylight running out, we needed to decide where to sleep.
In classic TEMA style, we held a useless meeting. I personally couldn't care less where we slept – I just needed to avoid crapping my pants. I excused myself from the decision making process, and asked some local kids if they knew where I could go to the bathroom. They pointed towards the bridge and told me to just shit in the river. Oh Guatemala. How quaint. I ended up finding a convenience store who let me relieve myself, and returned to find that we'd chosen to park the bus alongside the main road for the night, right in front of the small central plaza, and within sight of the police station.
Now let me be clear: this was not a nice town. It was a horrible cess-pool of a town! Dangerous, ugly, and brutish, this was the kind of town that travelers are advised to avoid stopping at for any reason, even for a taco, let alone to spend a night camping on its streets. But we had a policeman watching us all night, and were without a better option. So in classic TEMA style, we made the best of the situation. We even put on a show for the locals, who loved the music and fire-spinning. In my weakened state, I did my best to play a drum, but couldn't summon the energy for anything else.
I ate more Immodium and went to bed on the bus, lulled to sleep by the sound of big-rigs roaring past us.
Please Note: here's where things get really funny for the reader, but decidedly less funny for me.
I was awakened by the sensation of letting out what I thought was a fart. It wasn't. It wasn't much, but it was a lot more than just a fart. With every hair on my body standing on end, and unsure of the extent of the damage, I lunged for a fresh pair of underwear and a roll of toilet paper. My movements were not unlike a geriatric senior citizen rushing for an emergency exit after someone yells "fire:" jerky and poorly controlled, yet somehow delicate.
I burst out of the bus in a panic, sweating. I didn't have much time. I shuffled about ten steps before urgency overcame decency, barely making it out of sight of the police station. I removed my boxers and squatted, now stark naked. From here, things go very, very wrong.
First, a car alarm across the street went off for no reason whatsoever. I was now directly in-between an on-duty police officer, shotgun in hand, and a screaming automobile. I wanted to move, but there was no time.
Then, just as I was about to release the (rapidly failing) death-clench I'd placed on my sphincter, I felt another horrifying sensation: in the darkness, I'd chosen to squat directly over an anthill. Its residents had sounded the alarm, and were all-hands-on-deck attacking my feet with the ferocity only seen by animals defending their homes and families.
The next few moments were somewhat of a blur. Picture, if you will, a naked, six-foot-four-inch gringo. He's in a Guatemalan roadside parking lot, dancing what mildly resembles an Irish jig while swatting madly at his feet, uncontrollably spraying himself and his surroundings with diarrhea. It boggles the mind, I know. Now factor in the car-alarm, the rapidly-approaching, shotgun-toting police officer, and the fact that said six-foot-four-inch gringo is trying his best to remain silent and be discreet during this whole gruesome episode. I only wish this kind of thing came from my imagination.
The date: November 31, 2008. I dare say it was my finest moment of the year. Possibly my finest moment ever.
I crab-walked to a more hidden location, and did my best to clean myself up, the last of the ants still between my toes, stinging me mercilessly with their last hateful moments on this earth. I slunk back to the bus, thankfully undetected by the Guatemalan cop, where I slathered my feet with cortisone cream, and collapsed in bed, exhausted, violated, totally depleted.
I'm not sure how many Montezuma's Revenge points this is worth, but I'm pretty sure I'm still winning. Or losing. Whatever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At work.. dying with laughter..