Posted by razzbuffnik on 10th June 2008
If there is one thing that I’ve learnt from my travels, it’s to pay attention to the subconscious messages that my senses send to my brain. Every time I’ve been really sick with diarrhoea, I can remember the moment that I decided to eat the food that my “spidey sense” tried to tell me was dodgy. As a matter of fact, when I think about all the times in my life that I have ignored that little voice inside of my head warning me of danger, I’ve ignored myself into some real character building situations.
When I was staying in Tarrazout, the deluded thought crossed my mind that it would be a good idea to try and hook up with some Tauregs and get on one their caravans to Timbuktu. So I decided to catch a bus from Agadir to Goulimine. As I was waiting for my bus, I went to get something to eat at one of those suspect roadside stalls. I can remember looking at the filthy hands (people in that part of the world wipe their backsides with their bare left hands and there is not really enough water around to wash properly) of the food vendor and being repulsed, but I thought “what the heck, I am hungry” and I ate what I was given to me anyway.
The buses in Morocco at that time, were very similar to the school buses used in North America. Very basic affairs, with no air conditioning or on-board toilets. The trip from Agadir to Goulimine by bus was a long one and took about 24 hours during which time my bowels reminded me that I should listen to that little voice in my head next time I buy some food. About eight hours into the trip I got the sensation that I was about to overcome the surly bonds of gravity due to the force of an explosion that was about to happen in my pants. I was sitting in the back of the bus and as quick as a shot, I flew over the various pieces of luggage, chickens and goats to beg the driver of the bus in my broken French to stop and let me off.
The bus driver wasn’t having any of that and he just waved me away. I tried conveying my sense of urgency as best as I could but he just wouldn’t listen.
It wasn’t a merely call of nature I had to answer, it was more like a subpoena from the supreme court of all creation!
I was getting insanely desperate. My shame had already gotten off and I was left with no other option than to start taking my pants down to re-decorate the stairwell with a palette of earthy tones. As soon as I started to undo my pants and pull them down the bus driver just jammed on the brakes, and we skidded to a halt as the doors were flung open. I ran as fast as I could to behind the back of the bus.
There is nothing to compare with the relief that one has in such situations when the levee breaks and the floodwaters are free to travel their natural course.
As soon as my immediate needs were met, it suddenly occurred to me, that I was out in the open on a flat treeless plain with my pants around my ankles. About 50 yards away was a young shepherd boy with his flock, who just stood there staring at me, as disgusted motorists zoomed past me. Then, like some cosmic joke, I realised I didn’t have any toilet paper. You know you’ve reached rock bottom when you’re wiping your backside with a bare left hand full of roadside dust as an audience watches.
To all you mothers out there, I think that I have come into contact with the slightest inkling of what it’s like to have people looking up your clacker as you helplessly convulse, giving birth.
As the day wore on, we occasionally stopped in small towns, and I was able to get a modicum of relief in some very disgusting Third World latrines. Night-time seemed to amplify my discomfort as there was no scenery to distract me from thinking about my stomach pains, or by being terrorised by my now spastic peristaltic bowel movements.
Shortly after dawn, we arrived in the fog shrouded town of Tiznit. I was feeling so exhausted, dehydrated and disorientated that when I stepped off the bus, it was like I had landed on the moon. I felt so disassociated from everything around me, and it was as though I was seeing everything for the very first time. In the half hour I was in Tiznit, I took some of the best photographs of ever taken in my life. Usually when I take a roll of film I only get about one picture per roll that I’d bother keeping. The half roll of film that I shot that morning, were all keepers.
There have been a few times in my life where bodily discomfort has led me to new heights.
Another time was when I used to rock climb. I had been to a big and very crazy “cocktail” party. The following morning, with a killer hangover and a few friends, I went climbing.
There was one climb in particular, a classic called “Eternity“, that I always had a bit of trouble with because it scared me a bit. It was not uncommon for me to put in up to about 10 pieces of protection (removable devices placed into faults in the rock, to hold the rope as a safety measure) whenever I led (climbed up first trailing the rope below me) Eternity. My friends used to rag on me because it was exhausting for them to take out so much protection on the way up after me.
On the morning of my hangover, I did the whole climb with only two pieces of protection. My hangover was so bad that I thought my head was going to explode, and I just wanted to be sick. I was in so much discomfort as I was climbing, that I didn’t think about the danger that much at all, and it was the best I climbing that I ever did.