An Undignified Loo Stop in the African Bush | Sense Africa
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Jenny's Blog

An Undignified Loo Stop31st October '18

I like to think that I have a cast-iron constitution; I have eaten goat’s head, fruit bat and mopane worms, nothing has ever really bothered my system.  However, there was always going to be the day when I got caught short in the bush, and this time it proved to be rather eventful.

I’m not sure where I picked up this rather nasty stomach bug but it was on the day that I arrived at Foresters Arms in Swaziland for the first of three nights whilst I was leading a walking trip.  I had a very pleasant evening and collapsed into my wonderful plush bed ready for a good night’s sleep in preparation for a trekking day in Malolotja the following day.

However, this was not to be and I spent most the night with my head over the loo or sitting on the loo, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.  I just thanked my lucky stars I was in such a nice place, with an en-suite bathroom and access to copious amounts of clean water.

I crawled out of bed in the morning and went to reception to check that nobody else had been through the turmoil as I had been through.  Luckily everyone was OK and oblivious to my night’s shenanigans.  Breakfast consisted of two cans of de-fizzed Coca-Cola, the best thing for a dodgy stomach, although I suspect a dose of ciprofloxacin would have been better for me.

For the life of me I could not think how I had picked it up or even where. But I am always picking up things to show guests, so no doubt I had picked up something not worth showing that day. Lesson to self, always wash my hands thoroughly after every walk.

We set off on our walk in Malolotja Nature Reserve. Malolotja is a beautiful mountainous area in western Swaziland and you wouldn’t be too surprised if you saw a dragon pop up from behind one of the mountains, it is that magical.  So, I was pleased to be out in the open although I had already mapped out in my mind where all the potential toilet stops would be on the way there, whilst there and on the way back.  In my head, I had planned it like a military exercise.

I judged I was all right to lead the walk, it wasn’t over very rough terrain, there was always vehicle access and the day was a walk rather than a massive hike.  For that, I was thankful.

We safely arrived at Malolotja without any emergency stops for me, placed our orders for lunch, (I ordered the thinnest soup that I could find on the menu), we donned our walking boots and set off into the bush – after a last-minute loo stop for myself.

I was feeling a little bit better, and was needing to go to the loo less and less, which was an absolute blessing.  However, this smugness was not going to last.

Malolotja has beautiful rolling hills and the route that we were on comprised of typical highveld flora; low scrub brushes, no trees and views for miles upon miles upon miles.  Not ideal for anyone who needs to go to the loo on a regular basis.  After an hour and a half, I knew I would to go to the loo pretty soon, I was cramping again.  There seemed to be nowhere for me to go for a bit of privacy, and I had that feeling of panic that overwhelmed me, I knew I was going to embarrass myself as well as behaving rather unprofessionally.  A horrible position to be in, and I was guiding this trip too.

Up ahead I spied a small rocky outcrop, about half a kilometre away, and I said to myself and my stomach, that if I could make it to that point, I would be OK. I willed my innards to behave for five minutes longer. Please, just another five minutes.

I upped the pace a little bit and the group followed suit.  As we approached the small hillock I pointed down the track that curved to the right saying “There is a great viewpoint about 100 m down there, there is a bench with a spectacular vista, I just need to go to the loo quickly and I will catch up. No need to wait.”

Quickly, was the operative word.  I frantically found a suitable place, clawed out a hole in the ground underneath the rock that I had turned over. I had checked that there was nothing living underneath, it would have been a rather unfortunate situation for the poor unsuspecting animal if I had not looked. Thankfully there was nothing living underneath, I do not know if I would have had the time to dig another hole. I managed to get myself sorted and squatted over my frantically made loo. I then had that awful realisation that I might not have packed my loo roll.

I have a little bag that I carry loo roll, scented nappy sacks and hand gel in and I knew I had taken it out during the night, the question was, had I put it back into my bag? Or was I up that proverbial river without a paddle? I frantically looked through my bag unzipping the correct compartments with my bottom exposed to the world, and to my relief there it was. A wave of thankfulness swept over me.

But it wasn’t to end there. The worse was to come.

As I hugged my little “getting caught in the wilds emergency” bag with joy there was suddenly this massive “Whaaaa hoo” call from the top of the hillock; a very large male baboon was squatting there looking down at me, as I squatted down looking up at him. No doubt he could see my very white arse shining in the sunshine.  It was not a very comfortable situation to be in.

The baboon called out again, it’s cry echoing across the mountains.  It was replied by number of other calls from different, thankfully distant, areas.  How utterly embarrassing this was, this would be the most undignified way to go – with my knickers around my ankles as I was doing my business in the bush.

I looked up, and the baboon looked down at me.  It sat down and observed me, and then yawned. I was mesmerised, mouth open, waiting for him to make the next move. Was humiliation on cards for me?

He then turned away, probably in disgust, and disappeared.  I hastily proceeded to do the quickest turnaround from squatting over a hole in the ground to being fully clothed.  I stood up to assess the situation.  There was not a baboon in sight as I poked my head around the outcrop, I suspected that this male baboon was a scout for the troop, checking out the area. He had obviously decided that this way was not a desirable route.

I checked the area, made sure that everything was covered up, I had my bag of tricks in my rucksac and the used loo roll in my side pocket in one of the nicely scented nappy sacs.

My group had only just arrived at the view point when I caught up with them. “Seen anything interesting?” I asked. “No, but we did hear some barking of some kind.” “Ah yes, those were baboons calling.” And that was that.

I often wonder whether that baboon thought that my arse looked attractive and enticing or if he had gone in search of counselling.  Either way, I managed to get away with my dignity intact and with the group none the wiser of my mini loo adventure.

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