Perhaps I feel inspired by the toilet humor of Rabelais, because I want to share a brief and rather tasteless anecdote from yesterday's events. The following post is vulgar, graphic, and disgusting. Please do not read it.
Four days ago, I was in Tupiza, Bolivia, which is near the southernmost end of the country. From there, I traveled to La Paz, at the northern end, in Matthias' jeep (10 hours) followed by a night bus (12 hours). I slept in La Paz and took another set of buses beginning the next morning: to Puno, Peru (6 hours), from Puno to Arequipa (6 hours), from Arequipa overnight to Nazca (9 hours), from Nazca to Ica (2 hours), and from Ica to Lima (6 hours+).
Let's focus in on that last leg.
Spending more than 50 hours sitting on your ass in bumpy buses without washing or sleeping well and eating nasty food tends to transform you into a rather disgusting person. To confirm this, I had only to open my pants a little to smell the sweet aroma of backpacker putrefaction. I had only to lift my arms to keep even the Peruvians from intruding into my seat-space. And, of course, there is that wonderful phenomenon I like to call "altitude stomach" that makes you fart in fifth gear when you're above 3000 meters. I sat in all this me-filth for the entire time--even the odor-resisting powers of my synthetic trekking clothes were overcome. When I got to Nazca, thoroughly pasted over with several layers of sweat, hair grease, and bio-stink, I asked the hotel where I booked my Nazca lines overflight if I could use one of their showers. The owner said yes, but I'd have to pay 8 soles (about $2.66). Naturally, I found this unreasonable and offensive and refused to pay the asshole anything. So I continued to Lima in my state of horrible malodorousness. About four hours into the allegedly six hour journey, I began to feel a familiar discomfort. This was compounded when, after showing the first two, the third "Fast and the Furious" movie of the trilogy began playing on the bus TV. Oh God, I thought, there can't possibly be that much time left, because... I HAVE TO GO. Realizing that the plumbing was about to burst, I nevertheless practiced yogic patience. The bus, I thought, would surely arrive soon. It didn't. It kept going and going, and I kept having to go, to go, To Go, TO GO TO GO TO GO OH GOD I HAVE TO GO!!! I ran to the front and begged the driver's assistant to stop somewhere with a baño. He pointed to the side of the road. I said no, I need A BAÑO. He understood, but there really was nowhere to stop on the highway. Finally, the bus pulled over to let off passengers, and I noticed an Internet café with a sign: Baño, 50 cts. My pupils dilated at this, a more wonderful sight than Machu Picchu ever could be, a miracle granted me by whatever gods look over this world and its miserable inhabitants. "Baño!" I shouted, "Baño!" I was like a small child, I was so excited. But the assistant hadn't seen it, and said simply "No hay." "Hay!!" I shouted, pointing, "Hay!" and then he did see it, and told the driver,
WHO WOULDN'T FUCKING STOP.
I have to tell you my friends, that I have spent years on a long journey through my emotions, trying to rid myself of anger and hate. I believed at the beginning of this process that if I was unhappy, it was my own fault, and I had to work hard to feel less malice toward people and more genuine good-will, positive humanity if you like. But in that moment, I never hated anyone more in my life. I moved to the front seat, just in case I had another chance, and as the pressure built in my bowels, I started uttering (in English) the coursest of profanity at the bus driver. This was New Jersey cursing, New Jersey anger. To the poor guy sitting next to me, I unloaded my plight. After all, I couldn't unload anything else. I felt the piss rising into my head, making me pissed off, and the shit pouring into my spleen, making me splenetic. The colic pain came in spasms, like birth contractions, the time between them shorter and shorter. And then things got worse, because...
We hit a massive, massive traffic jam in Lima, ten minutes from the bus terminal.
For a half hour we didn't move at all. And I didn't know how much longer I could really take it before I'd have to squat like an animal in the highway median or, better yet, squat right in front of the bus, shitting with my ass in the driver's face. Or even better yet, I thought, I should just shit in his lap and piss down his throat. I even said that out loud, "I should just shit in your lap, you motherfucker" since he probably didn't know English. Neither did my neighbor, but I said to him, too, "I should just shit in his lap, that asshole." I stared at him with fiery eyes, wishing I were an evil Superman, fantasizing about ways he could die, only my anger keeping the excrement contained. When the urgency really became demanding--during the first "Tokyo drift" scene in the movie--I spontaneously began pounding the plastic divider in frustration and shouted at the driver:
"¡¿Entiendes Usted que quiere decir 'emergencia'?! ¡Necesito usar el baño, ahora! ¡AHORA, AHORA, AHORA! ¡Estada un baño, pero no pareda! ¡Jesús Christo! ¡Tengo muy muy dolor! ¿Entiendes?"
I'm not sure how correct any of that is, but I felt a small victory because I still had the presence of mind to use Usted and afterward said a few "esculpe"s for making such a scene, though the fucker deserved it. Finally, we started moving again (finally, after what felt like another hour), and I thought I was going to cry. I was in so much pain, I couldn't hide it, and I was embarrassed, too. At the second to last stop, the driver's assistant spotted a dirty little Chinese restaurant and pointed. "¡Espera!" I shouted as I bolted toward it, ignoring employees and patrons as I shot into the inevitably disgusting baño in the back, like that scene in that one movie I can't remember right now. And then:
Pardon the foul language, but I shat the shit of the ages. The toilet had no seat, of course, so I had to practice my squatting--no problem. I squatted and shit for about five minutes, the combined junk food waste and politely held-in farts of 50 bus hours reverse-geysering out of me. I shit like an elephant, like a demigod of shit, like Kevin Costner shits out shitty movies.
And then it was over. I dabbed my poor, sore rectum with the baby wipes I cleverly stashed in my pocket (never any t.p. in SA) and then examined my work, the masterpiece defecation of my life, greater even than the great Mt. Washington Shit of '99. It was the size (not the consistency) of a bowling ball. For the sake of tradition, I tried to flush, then ran out, handing a waitress 5 soles on the way (can you say "shit-eating grin?"). I hugged the driver's assistant with genuine affection and reboarded the bus. Everyone's eyes were on me in that funny, leaning-into-the-aisle way. I sheepishly apologized for my behavior, but the passengers were all smiles. I think some of them actually applauded. The guy behind me wanted details, which I gave him, and he laughed his ass off. But I slouched into my seat a happy man and made it to my hotel without further incident.
I would have posted this awful story last night, but I had to dash out of the Internet café for round 2.
If you actually read this far, I am truly sorry that you ever had to know me. As compensation, here are today's events: I actually saw blue skies in Lima, bought three months of seizure medicine, had my photos developed, learned that, for the third time in a row, a friend's digital camera is malfunctioning (so no photos of Bolivia), and got, for the Findlay nuptials, my first ever manicure and pedicure--and liked it.