Perhaps it was due to the cramped, insanity producing quarters and sweltering heat.
Maybe it was one too many mosquito bites, the filthy conditions of our truck, the A/C that wasn’t working in stifling temperatures, too little sleep due to a fussy baby all night, or stress over inadequate work time, and feeling that it would be so much easier to just ‘be a mom.’
Whatever it was, I was ornery.
Adding insult to injury, I step out of my seat and into a pile of excrement deftly deposited by one of my children right outside my car door. As I lift up my foot to clean it off, I hit my knee on the corner of the door as a bug flies directly into my ear and I try to swat it away.
“That’s it!’ I demanded, “I want a house, so I don’t have to step in my kids poop and deal with bugs!!!”
My husband just laughs. Typical.
Too hot to prepare breakfast, we pack up and drive toward Tuxtla Guiterrez, with a plan to find food on the way.
We stop at a tiny village en route, for some tortillas and eggs. Parked outside the tortilleria in a town the size of a large backyard, Greg messes around with our veggie pump, which had been acting up.
I stood entertaining Atlas, when a sudden urge to use the toilet hit me so strong, I couldn’t even move. I hadn’t been feeling sick, but all at once I needed to go, so badly that I knew I was in trouble.
I scanned the square to see if there might be public facilities close by, but even if they were, I wouldn’t be able to get to them. I was using every muscle to keep myself from messing my pants.
Realizing that the situation was serious, I did the only thing I could do. I reached for a diaper that was in arms length, and stuffed it down my pants.
It wasn’t a moment too soon, for just then all restraint was lost and out gushed the entire contents of my bowels. There was no holding back.
In a pitiful yelp, I called to Greg to come help me.
“What is it?” he asked with concern when seeing the look on my face.
“I just pooped my pants,” I whimpered.
From a guy that has pooped his pants while living in Peru more times than he can remember, could you expect anything other than laughter?
“Welcome to the club,” he laughed with sympathetic amusement.
He discovered that the tortilleria had a bathroom I could use, located in the back of the store. I would have to walk past the two male employees, to the rear of their little shop.
For a person who is very private, and likes to be ‘proper’ in public, I couldn’t imagine anything more horrifying than parading (more like waddling) my poop filled self past perfect strangers.
Yet what else was to be done? I couldn’t stand out here in the public square and change my diaper.
So I packed my purse with wipes and other supplies, then shuffled past, trying to look as normal as possible, but as I went, Parker called out, “Mom, why are you walking so funny?”
Finally in the refuge of a toilet, I start to clean myself. I deposit my overflowing diaper into the empty, bag-less garbage can – that won’t be obvious after I leave and they use or empty the can.
I consume nearly an entire roll of toilet paper, and countless wipes, which helps to cover up my diaper in the basuero.
I’m sure the employees will wonder, “How much papel does one guerra have to use?”
Just as I’m about done, after 10 long minutes in the baño, I drop a plop onto my flip-flop exposed toe.
Thankfully there is a faucet and bucket where I can wash my foot and sandal, but with the flowing water starts the flowing of tears. I’m feeling pretty embarrassed and sorry for myself.
After an eternity, I’ve cleaned and composed myself, and exit the bathroom with a sheepish look on my face. I grimace as I pass the employees, hoping they’ll figure the poor guerra is sick from traveling in Mexico, and will take pity on my plight.
If I had been in a bad mood before, pooping my pants didn’t improve it. All it did was help to turn on the waterworks. Tears flowed freely.
“One day you’ll look back and laugh about this,” my husband tried to encourage.
I know that. I can already see the humor in it. But right now I was replaying in my mind all the reasons I had to feel sorry for myself. I could think of a lot.
The more we drove, the worse my mental condition grew. All I wanted was to take a nice hot shower, and lie down in a clean bed in an air conditioned room.
That’s not going to happen. We’re in the middle of Mexico. There’s nothing like that to be found for untold miles.
So instead I cried. And I cried. And I cried. I cried over every little annoyance and irritation in my life.
I cried while we drove, and when we stopped by a river, and while my husband set up the annex room so I could shower with our solar heated shower bag. I cried while the sun beat down on me and made me sweat, and the ants bit my legs and mosquitoes buzzed in my ears, and while the baby cried.
Like the gushing into my pants, now my tears were gushing out without restraint. Emotionally, all control was gone. I’d reached a breaking point.
I cried so much, that my husband finally said, “I’m really trying to be patient here, but I’m really close to losing it.”
He took the kids to the river nearby, and left me to shower in our spacious annex room, and while the water worked miracles on washing away the dirt and grime and filth, it also miraculously healed my soul as well.
It washed away the self-pity and irritation. It washed away the tears, and the frustration and vexation.
In it’s place came gratitude, perspective and rational thought.
We could ‘give up’, move into the comfort of a house, and live a normal life. Do I want to give up this lifestyle, return to the States, have my husband get a job and live in suburbia?
Not on my life. Even with an inordinate amount of personal experience with feces and abnormal bowel movements. Even with the irritation of an intimate relationship with nature’s most abounding and afflicting creatures. Even with heat, and rain and cold and the cramped quarters.
I couldn’t give it up and go back to ‘normal’ life. The other side of the same coin was just too much fun. Because when things weren’t ‘really bad’, they were ‘really, really good’.
As if to assuage my arduous struggles, the remainder of the day presented itself in an agreeable fashion. We cooked quesadillas beneath the shade of a tree, then frolicked in the refreshing river that lazily meandered by.
If only I’d known the misfortunes that lay ahead, I would have viewed today’s upheavals with the amused benevolence a parent has when watching their toddler get frustrated while tying their shoes.
Seen as mere child’s play, I could have dealt with the inner turmoil with the proper perspective that hindsight belatedly brings.
Such is life.
(Sorry no photos, I’m not usually in a picture taking mood when things like this happen.)