emergency pooing - still some of my all-time favorite stories - partly because in some circles, they elicit similar stories from other people - all funny in retrospect. the day after i met up with the group of people i was going to be working with for two years as a peace corps volunteer, we all loaded into the organization's small bus. as i sat in my seat, waiting for everyone to get on the bus, i felt the vaguest rumbling in my gut. i was still new and didn't recognize this as the early warning signs of a likely disaster. winding through mountain roads, i suddenly was seized with a desperate need for a toilet.
MUST. WAIT. A. LITTLE. LONGER. MUST. WAIT.
finally, rolling along in what i still remember as the flattest, emptiest, completely devoid of trees part of the country, i could wait no longer. thankfully, there was one person on the bus who spoke english. practically in tears from the pain and the effort of keeping my butt cheeks clenched, i explained my desperation. thank god thank god thank god they understood right away and i didn't get involved in the kind of conversation i would later have many times in similar situations - "we're almost there." "are you sure you have to stop?" "just wait." "you'll be ok" (seriously? if you only knew the high-speed acrobatics going on in my gut right now, you would NOT even be taking the time to utter those words to me!)
the driver mercifully pulled over and i bolted out of that bus and flew to the bottom of what could only laughingly be called a ditch (at the bottom, i could still see the tires of the bus) and let loose - barely getting my pants down in time. handfuls of dry, scratchy weeds (those don't look poisonous, do they?) were the only thing to use for toilet paper. at one point, i turned around to look at the bus and every one of my new colleagues was either facing straight forward or fully turned in their seats away from my side of the road. THANK YOU!
several months later, thinking i had gotten a handle on my misbehaving intestines, i ventured onto another bus with one of my colleagues. as we rolled through countryside and miniscule villlages, i was happily congratulating myself on having things under control. just as we stopped in a one-street village, i grabbed my bag and announced to my colleague (and now very good friend), "ok. let's go!" he scrambled out of his seat after me, pulling me back, saying, "it's the next one."
oh no it's not. it's this one. NOW.
as the bus pulled away and my friend stood there wondering if i was insane, i scanned the little street for any possible open businesses at 7 am on a sunday morning. i announced that if my friend didn't find me a toilet in 2 minutes or less, i was going to drop my pants right there in the middle of the street. having been on the first bus trip with me, he understood that this american's guts were impatient, to say the least. he looked up and down the street and found a man leaning on his gate. he quickly explained the situation and as soon as the man's head began to nod "yes" i was racing in his gate, up the steps into his house, through a room of sleeping people and straight into the bathroom.
usually very shy about the sounds people might hear when i'm in the bathroom, i was blissed out to let loose.
afterward, i tiptoed out of the house to my waiting friend who thanked the man while i couldn't even make eye contact with him.
while subsequent bus trips over the next few years were not nearly so eventful, i still shudder about having to be on a bus for any appreciable length of time.