Wednesday, December 03, 2014

run, mzungu, run!

[click on the title for the full post]

Today's Think Kit prompt:

Deck the LOLs

Let's loosen up: share a side-splitting story from the last year. What made you laugh out loud until tears formed? What made you giggle every time it was referenced? Whether it's a story, an image, a video – we want to hear about the banana peel on the floor, your best practical joke, or gems from the mind of a three-year-old. Whether it's sassy, sarcastic, or just plain silly: make us laugh!

This is one of those cases where the joke was on me. Months later my reaction has morphed from breaking into a cold sweat to laughter. I'm not sure I'm at the LOL stage yet.

I'm not one for bathroom humor, but this story is all about the potty.

Let me set the scene.

I'm in Tanzania visiting my godmother, Sr. Janet, and we're in the middle of a crazy-long bus ride. Unbelievably I had been looking forward to the bus trip. I pictured that the bus would be full of people, luggage, and live chickens.

My vision was right about the people -- folks were stacked on top of each other and kiddos were wedged on parent's laps and in the aisle. The boy pictured above was standing on a 50 pound bag of rice over my shoulder. What I didn't picture was the chaotic process of purchasing a ticket or getting on the bus. Arms were waving, people climbing over each other and boxes tied with twine and luggage and children bags of food were flying.

The bus was made for smaller people. I'm not tall by any means, but my knees were firmly in the back of the seat in front of me. And the seats were so tall that you couldn't see in front of you, it was quite claustrophobic.

We were on the bus for several hours before there was a bathroom stop. We pulled into a lot with stands and vendors and people holding stuff for sale up to the windows.

My godmother gave me a baggy with a roll of toilet paper and I jumped over the obstacle course in the aisle and tumbled down the steps of the bus. I was trying to find the toilet while making my way through the throng trying to sell me things. I must have said la asante (no thank you) a hundred times.

I finally found the bathroom, figured out that the man in front of the door asking me for money was for use of the facilities, found the right amount of shillings to give him, and walked into the women's room.

I should explain that toilets in Tanzania are not the toilets we're used to. They are "squat" toilets. Click here if you'd like further description.

Going to the bathroom is involved -  holding up my skirt, positioning my underwear so that it was out of the way, and balancing myself over the potty while holding my purse and a baggy with a roll of t.p.

You can laugh.

I got my clothes organized, poured some water in the bucket in the stall to flush and refilled the bucket and walked out pretty darn proud of myself for navigating the process and keeping my shoes dry.

That was short lived.

The bus was gone!

I saw it rolling towards the highway, a football field away. I took off in a sprint, waving the baggie of toilet paper as I ran. While I was running, my petite godmother was trying to navigate the blocked aisle to get the bus drivers attention.

At this point there are probably close to a hundred people watching the Nora show.

I was panicked and there were tears running down my face. I can only imagine how crazy I looked.

Then I heard the chant of "Run, *Mzungu, Run!" coming from the crowd.

I burst out laughing, the bus slowed down, and I fell on in a shaking pile of panic.

*Mzungu - Swahili for white person, someone of European decent.


Granny Annie said...

Don't know whether I laughed harder at the run mzungu run or the descriptive potty use. LOL!!

nora leona said...

Thanks, Annie!