by Dave B
Living in Ecuador included some interesting stories dealing with the posterior.
|After the Spain fiasco, I was fortunate to leave my room much less the country upon return. However, being the brave man that I am (and apparently having terrible long-term memory), I decided that another trip abroad was in the cards. This time I decided that a week wasn’t long enough; I needed to go for a whole year. I decided that I could dig this Spanish mumbo-jumbo, so I threw a dart in the general direction of South America and happened to land on Ecuador (It was either that, or I had a powerful, spiritual experience that led me to a Bible college down there, I can’t really remember). So, my two friends, Eric and Jared, and I headed down to Ecuador.
Again, I was not prepared for the culture shock upon arrival. First, we landed at the airport and were escorted to our pick-up location by a boy and a couple of older teenagers. “Well, that’s very nice of them to make sure we get to our car OK,” we thought as we walked to our car without a second thought. As we arrived, they immediately lost the welcoming smiles and stuck their palms out expecting a hefty tip for rolling our suitcases 25 yards (I think they might have been in the Local 756 Suitcase Rollers Labor Union). We were unaware of this turn of events and immediately began rifling through our wallets and pockets for any spare change or money that we could give. As it turned out, only one of us had a single $5 bill. So we did something very logical. We gave it to the youngest and told him to make sure it was split between the three of them. Great judgment, boys, great judgment. We minus well have asked General Custer to split the West up fairly between the U.S. and the Indians. The two boys immediately grabbed the boy by the collar, threw him up against the car, and grabbed the money. It was truly a memory that will last a lifetime. Nothing says, “Welcome to Ecuador,” like some good underage third-degree assault followed by robbery.
As I was trying to figure out if I could change my return flight from Christmas to thirty seconds from that moment, our ride pulled up. We hurriedly threw our luggage in the back of the suburban before any more “help” arrived (I mean, why stop at getting a child robbed, maybe we could aspire to getting an old lady stabbed or an infant slapped…heck, we could shoot (no pun intended) for a governmental coup), jumped in and locked the doors in one quick, fluid motion. Thankful to survive our first hour in Ecuador, we relaxed over the half-hour drive to the college campus in the small city of La Merced.
The first week passed rather uneventfully. This week was known as “orientation week,” in which they attempted to orientate us to life in Ecuador, life on the campus, life in dorms, etc. In truth, orientation ended for me the day I left Ecuador eight months later. However, one of our first orientations was to the bus system. We all headed to the bus stop where a pink-and-white bus that looked like it should be parked in a smelly, old man’s backyard rumbled forward and stopped to let all forty-one of us hop on. This huge influx of unusual gringos proved to be quite a problem. By the third or forth stop, the bus was packed (think what an American would consider packed, then triple it). So, I ended up standing the entire way with my nose buried in my armpit to smell the freshness of my Cool Water Old Spice and avoid the wafting odors of body odor and human waste that permeated the bus.
I stood totally immobile, people pressed on each side, when I noticed something very disturbing. First, I should preface that I hated touching at this point in my life. I earned the nickname “Bubble Boy” in Ecuador because of my reluctance to hug as is customary in the culture. In the US I disliked funerals not because someone died, but because I knew it would invariably lead to somebody sobbing as they hugged me, which is the worst thing I could think of: emotion + personal contact= death. So, just the fact that I was packed in like that last book in a row on a bookshelf that there isn’t really room for but you try to squeeze it in anyways caused me to look for a paper bag to breathe into to prevent hyperventilation. However, even more horrifying was what I felt at that moment. All of the sudden I felt the pressure of a hand on the left cheek of my ass. I barely could turn my head, but as I strained to look over my shoulder to find the offender, I saw that it was an old Ecuadorian woman. There was nothing I could do. I was trapped in a clear-cut case of sexual harassment perpetrated by this geriatric, shriveled lady.
I felt the beads of sweat form on my head as I silently prayed that this lady would take her hand off, or the bus would get into a jarring accident, or that she would possibly keel over from some heart-related attack. Anything at this point would have pleased me. Ten minutes passed with no relent; the hand was still firmly affixed. At the fifteen-minute mark, my body began to shake. I tried to breathe deeply, knowing that I was likely going through the first stages of shock. My throat was parched and I now realized that dehydration would soon be an issue. At the twenty-minute mark, cramps raked my body and I knew I couldn’t make it much longer. Finally, as if the angels of heaven realized I could no longer hold out, the bus stopped and I heard one of the teachers call out, “OK, here’s where we switch busses.” As we filled off, I gave the woman a dirty look as if to say, “I hope you enjoyed that little anal probe you dirty, old nymph”(and not one of those hot elvish nymphs that dance around trees with the nyiads and dryiads, a nasty old one that has a hunchback, hairy armpits, and unsightly warts covering her cleft palate). The rest of the trip went without incident as we toured the city of Quito.
However, a few short days later my friend Jared and I decided that this would be an opportune time for us to attempt the trip to Quito alone. Soon after we arrived, we saw a bus rounding the corner and heading our direction. We didn’t take time to read where the bus was actually going, because it was at least headed the right direction (This is fool-proof logic at its finest, because a bus that leaves from the same place in a certain direction would naturally end at the same place, right?). We quickly ascended the stairs, and I lunged at a seat to make sure that my butt would never again be used to give an old woman her kicks (you know the old adage: an idle anus is an elderly woman’s playground). For the first half of the trip, we felt fairly confident that we were headed to our intended destination. However, we soon began to have our doubts. The first sign that we may be off our intended course was the large ravine on our left. “Do you remember that?” I quietly asked Jared. “Umm…no,” he replied hesitantly. Since neither of us was that observant (I barely know what color my own eye’s are), we decided that we just missed it the first time around. However, as the road became more and more tortuous as we ascended uphill, we began to feel very certain that we had made an egregious error. The final straw was when we stopped at a tollbooth armed by a man with a sawed-off shotgun. “Where are we going, Colombia?” Jared questioned hesitantly. Our minds raced back to the “safety meeting” we had the night before with a security agent within Ecuador. He had made such soothing comments as: “You are worth 25,000 dollars on the Colombian border,” and “Watch out, guys. There are men in Quito who can cut a hole in the back of your pants and anal rape you before you know what’s happening” (as if I needed another reason to worry about my ass. After the bus encounter and this “safety” meeting, I began working on a chastity belt/tazer that would ensure that anyone who came to close to the ole’ bum would get a little more than they bargained for), and “It’s probably a good idea to switch sides of the street every two or three blocks when walking to make it harder for someone to track you.” All of us left the meeting dumbstruck and paranoid, looking around and wondering which ones would be left at the end of the year and which would be sex slaves for a drug cartel in the foothills of Bogota. These thoughts were at the forefront of our minds as we wandered farther and farther from familiarity into the vast shadowlands of the Andes. We discussed our options quietly.
“Well, we could get off and get on the next bus,” Jared threw out hesitantly.
“Good idea. Then we’ll probably end up being piranha bait for some Amazonian cannibal tribe of headhunters.” I replied with great annoyance.
“Well, do you have a better idea?” He had me with that one.
“Let’s just wait until we stop and then we can ask someone where we are,” I offered. At that point we really didn’t have any options. Although we didn’t know where we were going, we at least felt a modicum of safety in a bus.
The bus rumbled on…and on….and on. Finally, about a half-hour later we stopped in front of what appeared to be an army camp.
”Is there a draft in Ecuador?” I whispered fearing that within the hour the new crew-cut Jared and Dave would be maneuvering through an obstacle course with a drill sergeant yelling cuss words in Spanish.
“Just go ask one of the bus drivers where we are,” Jared pushed me in the general direction of one of the large-bellied drivers.
”Permiso. Donde estas La Merced?” I hesitantly questioned.
”La Merced? La Merced esta esda aoesfj toatgjvn eaon vn toa nlgrt od ajof eroe aljga.” He responded pointing in various directions.
I looked at Jared hoping that he might have grasped the machine gun Spanish that the bus driver had spit at us.
“I lost him after La Merced,” Jared whispered out of the corner of his mouth. We thanked the bus driver for his “help” and tried a new tactic.
“Jared, go ask a different bus driver which bus takes us back towards La Merced,” I commanded returning the earlier favor.
“Permiso. Autobus? La Merced?” Jared asked using one-word expressions to avoid any conjugations or verbs in general.
“La Merced esta aobn anog aogjner mtohnjt hoint ho.” The burly man retorted.
“Cual autobus?” Jared redirected.
The man, understanding that we would not understand even a fragment of his Spanish, walked us over to a large bus and we boarded, think that are troubles were now safely behind us.
As we drove, we soon began to recognize the scenery and soon were driving towards a city we knew, San Rafael, where we could take a connecting bus back to our campus. All of the sudden Jared seemed to sit up straighter. A worried look crossed over his face and I knew something was terribly wrong.
”I think that was more than a fart,” He reluctantly said.
”No, I need to go to the bathroom now.”
The bus slowed into San Rafael and Jared quickly got up and shot out the door. Since I had no real need or desire to see what would become of this little misadventure, I took a seat on the stonewall and waited for him to come back. For about five minutes I watched as busses came and went, as Ecuadorian women breast-fed their children without a hint of modesty, and silently laughed at the predicament we had gotten ourselves into. Jared arrived shortly thereafter.
”So, did everything work out OK,” I said with a smirk.
“Let’s just get on the bus,” he replied, making me think that there must be a good story behind this one. When we were finally loaded and seated, I turned to him and asked what happened.
“Well, I was going to go into the grocery store, but I knew they didn’t have any bathrooms, and I couldn’t wait any longer, so I…I just went in the parking lot,” He confessed with obvious embarrassment.
“You took a crap in the parking lot?” I asked incredulously. “You duked right in the parking lot by the cars? Didn’t anyone see with all the cars going in and out? I mean, what did you do for toilet paper? There isn’t exactly a whole lot of paper to go around in general. Did you wipe at all?”
”Well, kind of. You see, I looked around for something, anything, that would do the trick. I couldn’t really walk around to look for three-ply with my pants around my ankles, so I used what was within arms reach.”
”Which was?” I grilled him.
“Well, there were two rocks…”
”Dear God, tell me you didn’t,” I responded horrified at the mere thought.
“Well, what was I supposed to do? I took the rocks, wiped, and then got the hell out of there,” he confessed.
“You wiped with rocks, Jared, with rocks! Didn’t that hurt.”
”Well, they were smooth ones, and I…”
”I don’t care if they were skipping stones, it still can’t feel great. And what did you do with the rocks afterwards? Flushing is kind of out of the question.”
”I just put them back,” he replied sheepishly.
“Put them back? That’s going to be one crappy situation for a future rock collector, no pun intended.”
He then made me swear that I would never tell anyone at school what had happened, which I kept until now.
I believed that God saw my superior attitude with Jared that day and decided that I must also go through a similar predicament. It happened at a bus station in the Trebol section of Quito. We were on our way to the jungle and were all excited with the thought of whitewater rafting down the Amazon. As we were discussing the tropical birds and exotic plants, I received the unlikely beckoning of my stomach. It was no emergency, but I realized that a five to eight hour bus ride on the rolling and diving hills of Ecuador would draw any fecal matter out of my colon that was not firmly embedded before departure.
We all know that bus stations in the United States are not well-kept, but bus stations in Ecuador make US bus stations look like a sterile laboratory. I knew that this bathroom would be akin to lifting up a manhole cover, lowering myself into a sewer, and relieving myself as I waded through human waste waist-deep. As I approached the figure that depicted a man, I noticed a little old lady standing outside the bathroom with a cart full of toiletries. “Sincuenta centavos,” she demanded.
”Fifty cents to use the crapper? You must be out of your mind,” is what I thought as I politely handed her the money.
She then pointed to the toilet paper. “ventesinco centavos.”
Great, now I had to pay for the toilet paper, and I only had twenty-five cents left. I handed her the money and in return she gave me 6 squares of the thinnest toilet paper I had ever seen. I thought that it might have been tracing paper that was rejected by a quality control agent at the factory, but there was nothing I could do. I entered the smelly, dingy den and prayed for a succinct bowel movement that would make my measly amount of toilet paper sufficient. However, this was not the case. After the toilet paper was used up, I realized that I still had significant cleaning to do to make this bus ride a success. I only had one option, I had to use whatever paper I had with in my backpack.
I slowly unzipped the bag and grabbed a notebook. In it were all my notes from Old Testament. I grabbed the first loose piece of paper I could. On it were printed the Ten Commandments which we were to memorize by the time I got back. Since I had memorized these as a child, it was one of the only disposable pieces of paper that I had on hand However, it was not a simple decision. Although I do not come from a Judaic tradition that holds to the belief that the word of G-d is in and of itself holy, I could not shake the wave of shame that overcame me with wiping my ass with one of the most sacred texts of the Torah. But without many other options, I took a deep breath, whispered a silent prayer of absolution for the quasi-sin I was about to commit, and lets just say no one would covet that piece of paper after I was done.
Many would be afflicted that year with bowel-type illnesses, but I can safely assume that butts played fewer roles in any other’s stories.