One of the trials and tribulations of being a solo traveller is toilet stops. I am aware of the fact that most places do not like you popping in to do your business and then leaving. And I get that, but well, sometimes it would be really helpful. And humane!
In fact I think I’m going to campaign for establishments to be solo traveller friendly. A club for those desperate times.
If I could go in and relieve myself knowing I’m not going to be shamed then I would happily buy something afterwards.
If you travel with someone it is much easier. One of you goes in and grabs a table, thereby giving the establishment the utmost confidence that you are here to partake of their goods. You won’t be a toilet dasher. You are here to stay and pay, no problem. No shouting and being shamed in public, no glares, no getting to the toilet door and realising you need a code to get in – CUSTOMER ONLY TOILET HERE!
The worst toilet trouble I had was in Italy, on the island of Procida. This wasn’t a wee job, it was a job of the other kind if you get my meaning. It was a time I could really have done with the SHITE club.
I had enjoyed a lovely lunch of pasta with olive oil, garlic and chili.
I felt rather pleased with myself as I wandered on to the Italian gelato bar I had seen earlier and sat in the sun enjoying my ice cream (caramel and pistachio if you’re wondering).
I planned to walk around the island to Postino beach. Procida is a small island, approximately 4 square kilometers, with 16km of coastline and it was feasible for me to walk to this beach and back.
Roughly fifteen minutes into the walk, I got that familiar rumbling feeling and slight belly pain, and thought, “Oh no, really, NOW?”. The small island suddenly felt quite large, especially out of season when a lot of places were closed.
Not too concerned I carried on towards my destination.
I was pretty relieved because by now the urge to go was starting to affect my ability to walk. There would be a bar or something on the beach and heading down the path I came to the beach and stopped to decide which bar to go in.
I didn’t have to take very long to decide as the choice was fairly limited. And by limited I mean there was ONE wooden shack. One small wooden shack where the toilet door probably didn’t even reach the floor and ceiling. Not happening.
There was no way in the world I was going to go and poo in a toilet in a tiny bar made out of wood. We all know when you’ve been holding it in for a while it is probably not going to make a graceful exit. There had to be a better option nearby. I was still hoping for the best.
So after making a show of admiring the view I reluctantly did a 360 and started heading back up the path. It was ok though, I knew the next beach was just around the corner and figured I could stand a few more minutes. It was a bigger beach so all would be fine when I got there.
Five minutes later I noted a path that looked like it led into a foresty / woody area and carried on going. I probably had five minutes left to the next beach. Fifteen minutes later I was seriously considering going back to that path and taking a dump in the woods, like bears do (good job I didn’t – I’ve since looked on a map and realised it was a long drive leading to a house).
I was still following Google walking directions and the road I was on looked quite short but it seemed never ending. When I zoomed in on the map I realised it was longer than I thought.
By this stage it is getting harder to walk. I am tensing all necessary muscles and I’m sweating. Trying to put one leg in front of the other while keeping all orifices sufficiently closed, I was desperately looking left and right to find somewhere suitable.
Forested paths had dried up by now and I have never felt so uncomfortable. The pain of my stomach tensing and screaming at me to find a toilet and find one now!
Heading down the hill towards the second beach I had to stop walking and hold on to a wall. It was taking so much effort and at this stage I was almost bent over in tears. I really thought I might shit myself there and then on that street. In my white shorts.
Rolling my eyes at myself and clenching for all it was worth I kept going knowing that there would be better choices on the beach. Quite possibly the longest and most desolate beach I had seen. The wind had got up and the waves were rolling in.
I couldn’t even SEE an open bar or restaurant. I really wanted to cry now. This was turning into a freaking nightmare.
Miserably trudging onwards I got to a point where the waves were rolling in so much I had to take my shoes off and clamber over some rocks to get to the other side. All in all, this day was not turning into the adventure I had had in mind when I woke up that morning. Getting to the other side and turning a corner I looked up – and saw a restaurant, and it was open! By this point I didn’t give a damn, I was going in and finding a toilet. I was triumphant, knowing relief was soon to come.
Just about managing to walk up the steps (I’m sure the people lying nearby were giving me strange looks. I was fully dressed on a beach and walking like a cowboy) into the restaurant I realised there was nobody inside apart from the staff. One of the waiters came up to me and what did I do?
Ask where the toilets were of course. Like any normal person would do. Like any sane person who was about to shit themselves would do. Nope.
I asked for a bottle of water. Because I still couldn’t bring myself to be the person who had gone in to use the toilet. But it was ok, it was a bottle to go, and after paying I asked where the toilet was. So off I go, still mightily clenched, to where the waiter had pointed, feeling the relief ripple through my body. To get to the toilet door just before another woman.
There was no way I was going to do this with someone waiting outside. I had no idea how long it would take, how loud it would be, or what odours may linger. Come on, we’ve all been there.
So I waved her in, “You go first”.
“No it’s ok, you go”, she says.
“No I’m fine, YOU go first. REALLY!”, my voice getting higher with each word. I lifted the bottle to my lips in what I hoped was a cool way and nodded my head at her to go in as I take a sip, as if to say, I’m not in a rush. Look I’m just casually hanging outside the toilet having a drink. Because right now a drink is just what I need.
In she goes and I start counting and wiping the sweat away. Every second feels like a minute. Then the waiter comes by and points out there is another toilet round another corner. Could have told me that before! Getting in that door, slamming it closed, locking it, throwing my bag on the ground and almost ripping my shorts off to finally s(h)it down. That was the new highlight of my day.
The sweet, sweet relief. No details required. You know what it’s like.
TIPS OF THE DAY
- NEVER eat garlic and chili pasta followed by ice cream if you are going to be out of toilet range afterwards
- Never ignore a path that leads into a forest – use it when you can
- Always carry tissues and preferably a bag, of the doggy poo variety
- Learn to ask to use the toilets, for pity’s sake (firmly aimed at myself)