Thank god for jackhammers. That’s all I have to say.
I was sitting in the all tile bathroom of my host family’s house in Chile. Sweating. Cursing under my breath. Making weird noises.
I had unwittingly eaten an entire roll of digestive fiber cookies the day before and by god was I paying for it now.
Let me back up and give you some context before we get to the juicy stuff…literally. Sorry, that was a bit much. I couldn’t’ help myself. But it’s ok because we’re friends now. We have to be, you are about to know my most embarrassing story.
I was living in Arica, Chile as an English teacher for the United Nations Development Program “English Opens Doors.” My host family had provided me with a cute bedroom and bathroom just on the outside of their house, connected to the enclosed patio area out front.
I had been living in Chile for a few months now and on my usual stroll home from school one day, I decided to stop in the Lider (basically Chilean WalMart) to get a snack.
Apparently I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies that day, something I hadn’t had in months. To my surprise and joy, I spotted a roll of them (hard to find in small city in Chile!) and quickly checked out so I could devour them.
I suppose now is a good time to let you know that I have literally no self control when it comes to sweets. I may be a relatively small human, but I can pack in some sugar. I’m talking sleeves of cookies, half gallons of ice cream, boxes of candy…in one sitting.
This was no exception. I wolfed down these cookies. They had the perfect balance of chocolate chips with crunchy cookie and I was hooked. Plus, I hadn’t had this flavor in months, I couldn’t help myself!
I thought nothing of it and went about my day. Little did I know that I was in for one of the biggest surprises (digestively speaking) of my life.
That night I awoke with all the feelings you can imagine one would feel after eating AN ENTIRE ROLL OF FIBER COOKIES.
I’m surprised I didn’t just up and float off into the sky. I was that full of air.
Air that wouldn’t go anywhere, just seemed to rumble and move around in my stomach.
I moved around in bed all night, trying to find a position that stopped the intense bloating feeling. I attempted to use the bathroom, tossed and turned, and just whimpered to myself as I lay helpless with a stomach full of angry, angry cookies.
Then the morning comes around and I’m supposed to go to school. But guess what. Morning isn’t the only thing to come around. That’s right. All that air and angry cookie has turned itself into something much more evil. Something that is definitely not going to let me be more than 5 feet from a bathroom at all times.
So I tell my host mom that I am sick, which leads to her drilling me about what’s wrong, what I ate, what medicine to take, etc. This was all very sweet of her, but I’m having trouble just standing next to her, I can’t possibly answer all these questions (in Spanish no less) while also trying not to explode!
She eventually leaves for the day and I book it to the bathroom for the first trip of, I don’t know, probably 30 trips I will take that day. And man do I feel bad for that bathroom.
But you know who I feel more bad for? ME. I feel bad for me. You know why? Cause not only am I in someone else’s house, in someone else’s country, in a bathroom MADE OF TILE (do you know how echo-y that is?!), but I realize – to my horror – that my host brother is still home and in the room connected to the bathroom.
That’s right. He just heard all of that. To say I was embarrassed is an understatement. So I did what anyone would do in that situation…I stayed in the bathroom. Unable to face another human, knowing the noises I had just made, and the defacing of his family’s bathroom I had just done.
But, as you know, you can’t stay in a bathroom all day. So I eventually decided to brave the outside world and run from the bathroom to my bedroom.
Literally as I am walking out the bathroom door, in enters the construction workers that are renovating our patio. The one outside my bedroom and the bathroom.
I say a very quick hello and hastily run into my room. Should be all good, right?
Not in my world.
BOOM. I’m hit again. These are the cookies that keep on giving. I have to use the restroom again. Like now.
But now it’s not just my host brother who is home, there are also these three men right outside the bathroom door “working” (let’s be real, they were eating lunch).
I know how loud I’m about to be. I know that I can’t possibly handle any more embarrassment today. But I also know that this sh*t (literally and figuratively) just isn’t staying in.
So what’s a girl to do? Poop her pants? Be the laughing stock of the household? Curse fiber cookies for the rest of her life? All of the above?
Well, this girl decides to brave it. We can be quiet. We can control it (I talk to myself as a “we” when we really need a pep talk).
Jokes on me again. THERE IS NO CONTROLLING THIS. I can tell, as I shut the bathroom door, this is going to ruin me. They will never look me in the eye again. I will not be allowed to stay. It’s over.
I lock the door.
Scoot to the toilet.
Take in a deep breath, the last one I will have before I have made the biggest fool of myself yet.
And then I hear them.
God bless the men working on the patio. They’ve decided to jackhammer right now.
So guess what, I do too.
Look, we’ve all had a rough stomach problem while abroad. This was my most intense one (really not that bad compared to some!). I don’t share to gross you out but to:
A. warn you against eating a bunch of fiber/digestive cookies!
And B. help you understand that these things are a part of travelling, we will all encounter them, the best we can do is make each situation work for us and tell a funny story later!
Now don’t leave me hanging here, what’s your most embarrassing travelling stomach story? Food poisoning on a train? Clogging host family’s toilet? Did you also eat too many fiber cookies?! I want to know! Share in the comments if you are brave enough to turn a misadventure into a laugh for all!