The backpacking road is full of surprises.
And sometimes, shit happens....
Journeys of potential-bliss can turn into freakish-nightmares in a matter of minutes.
Such was the situation I found myself in on a sunny-Sunday afternoon staring out the window of a Colombian bus on a 22-hour journey towards Ecuador.
It all started back in Bogota at the Platypus Hostel as I was stuffing the last of my belongings into my backpack.
I was out in the courtyard in a hurry to say goodbyes to fellow backpackers that I had befriended during my brief stay. Familiar faces, smiles and waves. That goodbye-blur on a Sunday morning in a foreign hostel.
No one really wants to engage you, its too early, its Sunday, acknowledgements are sufficient.
The unspoken backpacker code murmured and nodded. Respect, keep calm and carry on.
This Dutch dude pokes his head out of the door, I recognized his face hazily, I had seen him around, perhaps we had chatted, shared a few brews around the courtyard with the many other backpackers that stayed in the infamous Platypus Hostel in central Bogota.
It was a Partypackers hostel, the type of place you meet some of the Gringo trail's interesting characters.
"Hey man, you going to Quito?! its a long trip man, take these, they'll help.."
and with that he stretched out his hand from behind the half-opened doorway. I shook his hand, instantly noticing the press of a small packet in my palm at the same time.
"Sweet mate, cheers, good luck on your travels"
and with that I was off to Ecuador...
Before long I was on the bus, belting into the lush countryside in the early hours of a relatively quiet morning for Colombian standards. We zipped past the outskirts of Bogota and into the wider green countryside of Colombia, or Locolombia as its often referred to by its inhabitants.
I had the blessings bestowed upon me to sit besides a young women and her fat chubby son.
El Gordito, he became quickly registered in my inner thoughts now spiralling out of control.
‘Fuck it’ I thought. He was restless. Big and burly. A right handful for his young mother. A notable presence wedged in between the pair of us.
"This little fatty bom bom is gonna piss me off"
I caught myself quietly muttering out loud in plain english. And as if he heard my cue, he proceeded to drive his toy car up the side of my leg. A shy smile from the young mother and I found myself rebounding back her smile. He's cool, just a harmless youngster. I looked out the window from the aisle seat, only 21 more hours to go. Shit...
It was two hours and thirty minutes into the ride when my hangover really started to kick in.
The cumbia music thrashing out in the tinny speakers somehow had eluded my attention thus far, now it was grating the side of my tender head.
I hadn't taken sleeping pills before on a long distance bus journey, but somehow the next few hours of fatty broomm brooomm driving his toy car up and down my leg and this ear piercing music was not going to cut the mustard.
The trump card came in the form of two white pills. Small and tablety. Knock-out-nuggets of savior in this hour of need, several hundred kilometers from Quito in a loud rickety bus with the stifling midday heat creeping up on us all.
I reached into my pocket, leaning up on one arse-cheek hanging out the aisle, and in one smooth motion, dropped the pills in my mouth as I chugged on some of my luke-warm apple postobon.
'Later gator' I smurked down at El Gordito...
My head must of lay dormant for a period of ten minutes, trying to shut everything off and slip into sleeptopia. I flipped over to look out the window.
And the cumbia band played on.
It felt like an hour and my pill action had bore no harvest, I was still awake. Fatty brroomm brroomm had been restless as per usual and the cows were still passing in the blurry rush outside the finger-marked window.
I felt hungry but I felt sick at the thought of food. A wave of nausea swept over me. Ahh, could this be it I optimistically pondered, I dropped the shutters on my eyelids and lay my head back to rest.
No matter how much you butter it up, there is no way to describe the feeling when a sudden surge of diarrhea grips you.
An inferno roars within you, tears through your innards and shoots down through your intestines at a lighting pace. Your stomach tightens and your sphincter is overcome with a sudden urge to relax, to release the immense pressure building up behind it.
And its that very urge that you must combat and defeat within the 10 second onslaught of a flush of instantaneous diarrhea.
If you let your determination down, you can kiss your dignity goodbye.
No, this cant be happening, I frantically tried to regather my composure. The young mother and Andreas (fatty bom boms real name) had looked up at me, I must of lurched, squirmed or maybe even let out a terrified yelp. They smelt something coming...
I was so focussed on keeping the back door locked that I lost any sense of my movements and/or vocals.
It took me 1.5 seconds to not only realise the gravity of the situation ahead of me but the catalyst responsible.
I had been done. I had slipped down a double dosage of laxatives.
The joke was on me. My thoughts were climbing over top of one another, I tried to sit up straight, I started to smile, I gripped the aisle hand rail, I took a deep breath.
Thats actually quite funny I thought. I bet they are pissing themselves with laughter right now.
This was going to be the mother of all battles. Fighting off a double drop dosage of laxatives whilst sweating out a hangover with loud music on an uncomfortable bus with an irritating seat partner driving his toy car up and down my legs every few minutes.
I took my breathing down and tried to scramble some thoughts together for a plan of action.
I needed a toilet. This was no flashpacker bus. That luxury didnt exist.
Sweat started to gather on my brow. I needed toilet paper. Nah first things first. No amount of Colombian one ply toilet paper is going to mop this badboy up if the dam bursts.
Another surge started to swell within me. The tide started to turn somewhere deep in my tummy. I started thinking, this is it Den, your all over here, its the 'laxative-express' hurling down the tracks hard and fast.....
A million thoughts crossed my mind. Kiss goodbye to all the dignity you have stored away whilst on this trip Denis, in fact, explain to the raging bus driver in your fumbling spanish that his seat is soiled. Explain to those around you who are pulling out handkerchiefs faster than you can scramble your words together.
Look the young mother and Andreas in the eye and say 'sorry, i shat myself.'
I clenched my dignity with all my might....
And it burned, burned burned....that ring of fire... that ring of fire.....