As we near the car, my GI tract starts making some unpleasant announcements. I need to find a bathroom, and soon. My guide, Yeshey, points to a cement wall a short distance up a grass hill. I bite my lower lip. I look at him, then at the cement wall. Please God, don’t make it as repulsive as an outhouse.
Sweating bullets, I run up the hill watching two local women vanish around the wall. I get closer. I gag. The smell is overpowering; but when you gotta go, you gotta go, so, holding my breath, I hope this will be a quick trip. On entering, I gasp. No toilets. Just three disgusting holes in the ground with no doors or partitions for privacy. I shift my stare to the empty, totally uninviting hole, all the while trying to figure out my next move. I notice footprints on either side, along with remains of what didn’t make it down the hole. Years of squatters have passed through here. I put my hand over my mouth and nose. I’m faced with a choice: squat over a hole or take my chances until we find a real toilet.
Only one decision makes sense to me. I carefully sidestep all the human leftovers and get back down the hill. I let out a huge breath and boldly announce: “I can’t do it. I just can’t squat over a hole. Is there a toilet close by?” Yeshey tells me we are miles from one. “What do you do?” I ask faintly. “I go outside like everyone else,” he replies.
I have no idea why I never gave this toilet situation more thought. Yes, I was told to bring toilet paper, but I don’t recall any of my travel books covering the actual toilet facilities. If I’d known before I left home, I would have practiced my squatter skills. If only. Knowing how anal, pardon the pun, I am about public toilets, this is a real challenge.
As for going outside. Other people might be willing to do as the Romans do, but I refuse. I must figure out an alternative to the hole and the great outdoors. As eager as I am to follow a Buddhist path, this isn’t the one I had in mind.
I have only one thought as we head back to the car: Please get me to the hotel as fast as you can.