Ketembe (Indonesia), June 21st 2008
No bigger delight than malicious delight is a proposition that you will only endorse when you aren’t the one who is suffering. Because we don’t want to withhold you some malicious delight, I will sacrifice myself by sharing some of my suffering with you. It all started on a night in Ketembe. We were lying in our little chalet near the river, when I woke up with a bloated feeling in my stomach. While I was trying to feel whether it was a fart or pooh, the answer of that question was already in my underpants. Yuck! This didn’t happen to me since my child years and now there is not a loving mum around to clean up the mess. So, there was nothing better to do than run to the toilet for a heavy diarrhoea attack and to wash my underpants and bed sheet afterwards. When I was lying under the mosquito net again, I hoped that it was over. Bad luck! After half an hour I had to run again.
Diarrhoea is something that sometimes happens when you are on the road. Other food, other hygienic standards and other drinking water can upset your bowels. Most of the times you are over it after a few rushes to the toilet, but sometimes it can be more persistent. To explain to each other how the call of nature was, we created a colour scale that goes from caramel to coffee. And to describe the substance, we have a scale from chocolate milk, via chocolate pudding to the hardness of a potato when you are constipated. While the latter is also annoying, this is clearly not the case tonight. This night, it is thinner than chocolate milk in a caramel colour. This night, it is clearly not well.
So there I was lying in my bare bottom. The only underpants that wasn’t at the laundry, was hanging to dry and I felt that it wasn’t over yet. Because they say that resting is the best remedy, I tried to sleep for a while, but soon after falling asleep I woke up again with an urgent call of nature. Because there was no power supply that night, I groped for the torch and I crawled as quickly as possible out of the mosquito net. As soon as I was standing next to the bed to put on my slippers, chocolate milk left my body and I was simply not capable of stopping it. Soon, the entire floor was soiled with ‘chocolate’ and I remember saying to Edwin: “In a few hours we can laugh about this and see it as a part of the charm of travelling, but not at this moment”. After the highly necessary visit to the toilet there was nothing better to do than cleaning up the muck. I used our last pieces of toilet paper to clean up the brown juice. Afterwards, Edwin cleaned the floor with help of water, shampoo and the doormat while I was occupying the toilet again. But this time there wasn’t the luxury of toilet paper. This time I had to use the left hand technique.
In Indonesia, toilets are normally equipped with a large basin of water. In this basin floats a kind of plastic saucepan to scoop some water out of the basin, to flush the toilet and to clean your bottom. You use your right hand to pour water with the saucepan on your behind while you use your left hand to clean yourself. In many places we don’t have another choice than using this technique because the sewage system isn’t suitable for using toilet paper, but if it is possible we still prefer using toilet paper in our hotel. This luxury wasn’t there in the remainder of that night, so that gave me the opportunity to improve my left hand technique. After another eight times of rushing to the toilet, the sun came up. Edwin directly went to the shop to buy everything that I longed for: mineral water to replace all the fluids that I had lost and lots of toilet paper. For the time being, I have had enough of chocolate milk and I really look forward to the potatoes!
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