I need a pee stop please!

Posted: 20/08/2011 in Africa

I don’t think I’ve ever been so obsessed with the toilet in my life. In fact my job leaves little room to think of the toilet and you don’t realise you need to go until your meal break or home time when your bladder is expanded to the size of a football and laughing alone could be a problem. I had prepared myself somewhat with the inevitability of toilet sparsity and by somewhat I mean I had briefly thought about it maybe once, but I hadn’t taken in consideration the road trips. As a result, due to the lack of toilets and of those that are available questionable hygiene standards; the lack of bushes in some areas and the abundance of wildlife in others; and the amount of time spent on the road I have become some sort of loo obsessed freak and have to plan well all things toilet related. And of course this changes the whole coffee and fluids situation as well. Too much coffee = lots of pee and likely the other one. Lots of fluids, as is recommended = lots more pee. This is far too much pee for far to little loo in my mind. Being the only female with 5 males doesn’t make it any easier either. The truck pulls over for a pee stop and they are happy to jump out, wander over to some shrub and do what they’ve gotta do. Me on the other hand, well I’ll scan the horizon for people, study the bushes from all angles to check for potential butt visibility and if I find a good spot make sure the ground is free of all things bitey and prickly. Its bad enough having to squat in the bush to pee but imagine being butt bitten by a plate sized bird eating spider! The bizarre thing is that you think you’ve stopped in the middle of nowhere; there are no houses and no people but the moment the truck pulls over people appear out of nowhere. Where do they come from? Do they live underground or in the sky?! And why are they interested in us peeing? Ok so maybe it’s the enormous truck. Anyway as far as peeing goes the boys are happy but I cant stand and pee boys, I need more than a shrub, I need big bush with curtains, a seat and a hand basin!! Oh to stand and pee! Apparently the Namibian women do stand and pee but that’s another story.

So here I am planning my loo stops and holding on where I can, but while out in the Serengeti I realise I can’t do this forever or I’ll end up with some kind of bladder dysfunction and never be able to pee again in which case I’ll explode and the holiday will be ruined. Ok slight exaggeration but you get the point. I get brave! While having a quick roadside lunch out in the middle of nowhere I realise I really really have to go and it’s going to be a while before we get to an actual loo (by which I mean festy hole in the ground). So off I go to search for a Melinda suitable bush dunny and hurrah I find little alcove surrounded by bushes with barren ground! It’s as if it was made just for me and so a week and a half into the trip, in privacy and peace I have my first African bush pee. My second was not quite so private but it’s not likely to be when your in an open field, full of prickly weeds i might add, with 20 or so locals plus kids and the truck and the guys on the other side of the bushes! When you gotta go…

Of course there are endless stories about the hilarity (not funny at all!!!) of relieving oneself on a overland tour. Recently we were out on a boat heading to a reef to scuba and snorkel. We’re joined by 5 people from another tour plus 2 instructors and 2 sailors. There is no loo, it’s simply an old fishing boat. Obviously we will need to pee at some stage because we’re out for a good 7 hours but that’s ok, it’ll be a subtle event, paddling out somewhere on our own pretending to swim or look at fish, but no not so! We have a pee stop, in the ocean!! Seriously, a pee stop! Im not sure exactly how they pick their spot, maybe one section of blue water is slightly bluer… I don’t know. Anyway all subtlety gone, 3 or 4 would jump in at a time, hold on to the side of the boat and while bobbing up and down in the water, with concentrated looks on their faces, try to pee while everyone else looked away and tried not to laugh. One of the guys couldn’t wait for a pee stop (need I remind you we’re in the ocean where one doesn’t need to search for a suitable place to pee but anyway…) and the sailors tell him to stand at the back of the boat and pee off the edge. Thank goodness for us that we were moving and thank goodness for him we weren’t moving fast of he would have landed on the motor – ouch comes to mind!

Another time we’ve stopped to have breakfast, there are low shrubs as far as you can see, a burned down shack and no people anywhere! One of the boys needs a number 2 stop and picks a seemingly suitable area behind an old unused trough amongst the burned down shacks where no-one lives. While he’s there this woman appears from the sky, obviously, because where else is there for her to have come from, and proceeds to tell our chef that this strange white man is relieving himself on a gravesite! Of course we’re mortified but how is one to know?

Another time I wake at our Serengeti campsite grateful that there’s at least a hole in the ground with walls around it and a lockable door only to go in and find it unusable! People drink things they shouldn’t drink and aren’t good with hand hygiene and the loo suffers. And I suffer. I have to pee, I really really have to pee and we’re heading back out on a game drive where bird eating spiders are likely to be the least of my worries. So I have to find a bush somewhere. At least it’s still dark because there’s a good 150 people at the campsite, however we are in the Serengeti with no fences, no barriers and while it’s great that it’s dark from a privacy point of view it’s not great from a hungry, prowling wild animal point of view. One of the guys tells me to stay on the camp boundaries (wherever they are) and to scan the bushes for eyes. Eyes! Its hard to think about eyes when my mind is imagining giant teeth! And so the fun, said really sarcastically, begins. I wander to the back of the loo but the spot is taking, there’s a woman squatting loo paper in hand. I walk to the front of the loo, another woman squatting with, I assume, her husband standing in front to give her some privacy (like everyone’s going to crowd around for a look see). To the left and the right I see people wandering around, loo paper in hand looking for a pee worthy, predator free place. Hmm, what to do…bladder explosion is looking likely. I realise dawn is coming and I better just get on with it so I find a tree (couple of dead sticks poking out of the ground), some distance away from the others (right next to them) and get ready to do what I gotta do when a guy walks around the corner. “Looking for animals” he asks. Yes! Yes that’s what I’m doing at 5:30 in the morning, looking for animals, coz everyone wants to find and pat a lion in the dark! I tell him I need to pee and he says he does too and that he’ll go in front of me and not look. What other option do I have; so I do, with all the others around me, the campsite behind me, him in the front and all the while scanning the bushes for eyes! In hindsight, hilarious.

Of course then you have your actual toilets and i thought I’d seen them all. Sometimes we stop at a petrol station and there are hole in the ground toilets. Smelly, dirty, but private. I walked into the loo of one petrol station to find all these women squatting over a trough thats up against the wall, bahhhhh! I want privacy, peeing is not an experience women want to share, at least I don’t. You don’t hear conversations from cubicle to cubicle unless it involves the sharing of toilet paper. There’s no “so how are you going under there” or “nice shoes” going on! One campsite had a flushable hole in the ground and I couldn’t help but wonder why, if you went to all that trouble to make a flushable hole in the ground, you couldn’t just add a bowl and seat. Recently we stopped at a spice farm for a tour and used the loo; a hole in the ground surrounded by a stick fence with a hessian bag for a door. Hessian bags blow in the wind! And of course there is the drop dunny just like country Oz and they actually aren’t too bad except for the whole fear of falling in…. Yes it is arational fear. Yesterday our lunch break area had toilets that were clearly designed for midgets. The door came up to my shoulders and the loo was so close to the floor they may as well have just made a hole in the ground!

Yep, never been so obsessed with all things toilet related before.


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