You know that game that people sometimes play or that question that comes up for truth or dare, when someone asks you about your most embarrassing moment. I’ve never really had a good answer to that question. I’ve definitely had my fair share of embarrassing moments, but none of them have been funny or outrageous. Well, today I officially changed that and created a funny and outrageous answer to that question. I will tell you ahead of time that if you get queasy or don’t want to hear gross things, you should just skip this story entirely. I also want to say that I’ve NEVER in my life exaggerated and will continue to do so during this story so that way you can know what happened as if you were there. I also fully accept that people are going to laugh at me and make fun of me, but that’s all right. I think this story getting told is more important than my dignity, adulthood, or respect. With that said, everything started off like a normal day today…
I got up at 04:30 with everyone else in a 50-mile radius. I must say that it has been much nicer not having to wake up to the man screaming over the town loudspeaker. Now, instead I get to rise with the sound of people sweeping, washing, and all of their other morning chores before the sun comes up and puts a halt to all progress. I ate a heavy meal at the normal time last night, so I’m relaxed with breakfast in the morning. I wake up still with that great feeling I had last night as I went to sleep. I think my body was angry that I was sleeping through such a feeling because I woke up about five times thinking the day had already started. As I get up and stretch I can’t help but be grateful to be alive. I go through my normal routines and feel like I have to poop, I told you that this story is going to be explicit. This is strange because while pooping in the morning is my normal routine at home, it hasn’t been since arriving here in Ghana. I don’t think much of it other than it being a good sign that I’m really settling into life here. Everything was normal with the poop with its quasi-solid state that has become a norm. I have become well acquainted with the feeling of diarrhea since arriving here and knew instantly that this was not the case this morning. Oddly enough I have also become an expert at spelling diarrhea, which apparently I had no idea about before I started writing these stories. I continue on with my morning and meet with George Bush to break down my bills in order to get breakfast and catch up with a good friend. My koko and kosi lady isn’t there so I have to go all the way across town for the one with less quality and quantity. I get back home and pack up my things before I head out on the road to Wonoo. I have another feeling of having to poop before I leave. Okay, that’s not good, I hardly ever pooped twice in the morning at home and certainly haven’t done it here. Cautiously I make my way to the bathroom and to my surprise it was a Ghana normal poop. It’s now 10:15, time to leave to make it to Wonoo on time. I greet the usual people on the way out of town and the ladies at the end give me another gift. The elder one asks if I like aboobay, or pineapple. I can’t hide the excitement in my face as I tell her that I enjoy them. She gives me one and I put it in my bag. Moses is using his big loud machines to grind up grain, so I only yell to him the usual greeting and tell him I’m leaving for Wonoo. I get to the end of the road in front of the SHS and the reliable shade spot under the thick leaves of the coconut tree. After only a few minutes of waiting I see a huge truck coming down the road and a sensation tells me that I should flag them down for a ride. As they get closer I realize that there are three people in the back and in the cab. There’s no way I will have any room to fit in the cab and there’s no way I’m going to sit in the back of the truck that’s 20 feet off the ground. That’s pretty much guaranteed death in an accident. They honk a few times as those trucks do many times as they come down the road and instinctually I wave to them. As they pass they are slowing down and the men in the back yell to me and ask how I’m doing. I tell them in Twi that my self is well. I can hear them yelling “O te Twi!” as the front door to the cab opens. As I’m walking up to greet them I get a shot of fear because I know they are going to tell me that I should go in the back with the other men. To my relief they tell me to come up front to the cab. Then, I get a feeling of remorse because now someone will have to move to the back to make room for me in the front cab. They have already stopped so I ignored my subtle feelings and grabbed the handle as I climbed the poorly built latter leading up to the cab. I get in the seat with the grace of a baby taking its first steps. Having a backpack in one of my hands doesn’t help. I get up to the top step when I have to release my grip from the handle for the initial ladder part and desperately grab onto anything to not fall backwards out of the vehicle. I don’t even really remember what I grabbed onto; I just hope I didn’t grope the woman sitting next to me. Then I close the door, but only as hard as you might if you were driving a hummer or maybe an old rickety school bus. I felt like I slammed the door pretty hard, but the man in the back was yelling at me to open the door. Now I’m looking down for the latch and can’t find it. 10 seconds, or about 20 minutes as it feels to me, has now gone by and I can’t find the handle anywhere and I’m starting to panic because these people probably have work to go do so they can feed them selves before they sleep tonight. Finally the woman reaches behind me and I half jump thinking she’s trying to grope me back. She reaches for a red lever that looks awfully like an eject button. I let out a mental scream thinking that I failed the test and now their going to launch me out of the vehicle. She pulled the lever and the door opened. Oh, well I could have done that! I only needed another 20 minutes and we would have accomplished the same thing. Then the man in the back slams the door and he either closed it that hard because he’s pissed at me for making everyone wait or that’s just how hard you have to close these big truck doors.
We take off down the road and I greet all the people in the cab in Twi and we go through the usual dance that I conduct quite well in Twi now. After their yelps and laughter at my absolutely perfect Twi, we pull up to Krobo where our paths split. I say perfect Twi very sarcastically because I can fire off the answers now, but Twi is a highly tonal language, so it while in my head every thing sounds great, I actually probably just insulted all their mothers. Putting the high tone in the front or back of the word could literally completely change the meaning of the word. I’ll capitalize the part of the word in this next example where the tone rises. For instance, when you want to say father you say paPA, but to say fan you say papa. I know that PApa also means something else, maybe it means good. Anyway, I hope out of the truck with equal grace at entering and now everyone on the ground has joined those in the cab laughing at me. The men in the back are yelling to me in surprise asking me if I speak Twi. I get a few words in before they drive off to their destination.
I walk down the street in Krobo and the same young woman from yesterday isn’t there, so I continue to my usual spot in the shade of an abandoned shop at the end of town. The shop before that one has three men sitting out front and they ask if where I’m headed and if I’m catching a car. I tell them yes and before I can sound out the s sound, the man jumps out of his chair and tells me “me pachew, tenase,” I beg you/please , sit. There is an older man and two younger men. The man looks like he could be in his late sixties or early seventies. The other two men look like they’re in their late twenties. The first question out of the old man’s mouth is if I’m married or if I like to “hit and run” as he decided to put it. I avoided the second part of the question and added my usual routine in Twi of having small small money, Twi, and age. We continue to talk for a bit and they all crack up at each new Twi word that I break out of my repertoire. I find out that the man is 63 years old! Wow, I guess my reference is pretty skewed since my dad is 65 and looks more like 45. I’m glad I got his genes and not those from this man. A private car passes us and one of the younger men yells and runs over to talk to the driver. He tells me to come and join the person for a ride to Wonoo. The man driving is named Kwame Opoku. That’s about the equivalent of meeting a Mexican man named Jose Gonzales or a white person named John Smith. Before I get out he gives me his number. As usual I get the snacks for the students and buy the water sachets. I hoist the water onto my head and proceed to the JHS. When I get down to the bushy part of the walk I feel free and able to try what I’ve been waiting for this whole walk. I take both of my hands off of the water pack and balance it on my head as I walk. It is starting to slide off of my head, but it certainly isn’t falling off. I’m feeling quite proud at my head carrying abilities after just the third try. I get to the school and eat my lunch and wait outside where there is a nice breeze. I pull out my book to start reading and that’s where this whole day starts to go downhill…
I get a feeling like I have gas and I need to fart to let it out. I don’t fart much anymore since I’ve gotten to Ghana in fear that it might be something more. I hold it in and prepare myself for the gas bubbles that always build up when I don’t release the gas. Then I get a feeling of having to poop again. Okay, three poops in a day is really not a good sign. This time is much different than any other time I’ve ever had to poop. The feeling is getting exponentially worse by every minute that passes. I start to trace in my head of places I can go relieve myself. There are literally no public toilets within a two-hour trip. There are the students’ toilets which consist of a circular hole in cement that is accompanied by two raised sections where the back of someone’s thigh right above their butt should lay. I suppose you’re supposed to sit with your legs straightened out on the ground. I don’t really know and I certainly don’t want to make this the day that I find out. Then the sweat starts to run down my face. That’s never a good sign. That usually means throw up or something bad is happening inside me. I quickly formulate a plan in my head. I tell the Headmaster that I’m not feeling well and I’m on my way home. I also tell him that I am leaving the water in the staff room and giving the snacks to one of the tutors to continue the program. As I’m leaving the premises the poop feeling is still getting much worse. I have had times where I’ve help poop in for a long time and am very familiar at the stages that the body goes through before it’s time to find a toilet. It usually ends with a lot of pressure and lots of clenching. I’m not at those last stages yet so I just concentrate on calling Isaac to give him the snacks and chalk, so that I can leave for home. I’m now walking down the path through the bushy area and the feeling is twice as bad as it was a minute ago. The pain is excruciating and the pressure is immense. I pick up my pace and the feeling doubles again in severity. I stop walking for a second and keel over and I look like I’m about to throw up, but that’s the wrong end that is calling. I lean back and stand straight up again, feeling a little better. A few more feet down the path and suddenly the feeling comes back again, but worse than I’ve ever felt a stomach pain and the pressure is so bad that my vision is going cross eyed. Okay, I recognize the signs that I can’t hold this for another minute and I’m in the middle of nowhere. I start to run and I can feel the pressure get the best of my clinching efforts. Yes, that was a run around way of saying I just pooped myself a little bit. I stop again and squeeze as tightly as I can, keeled over from the pain. Now my adrenaline is pumping and I’m trying not to completely soil myself in the middle of the path to my school. I would have no way of cleaning any of it off of me and I don’t begin to know what I would do if it all came out. I start to run again and I can feel just a little more come out. Desperately I take a side path off the main road and only down a few feet before I start to climb into the bush. There are vines with huge spikes clawing at me, but I can’t even feel the pain compared to the one I feel in my stomach. I climb back and without much judgment I decide this is a good place to let loose. Okay, now everything is on red alert and I have the constant feeling of pooping, even though nothing is coming out yet. Without even looking around at the path for people or the spot I’m standing in for any creatures, I pull down my pants and boxers. I don’t want to poop directly on my pulled down pants, so I grab the nearest tree and lean my butt way back to try to point it away from me. Before I can clear my pants I feel the worst of it all. The feeling has now it it’s maximum and I can’t hold anything anymore. Knowing this, I arch my back to point my butthole away from my pants and in the middle of the movement I release all tension. There was a good reason for all of that pressure as it comes out like an explosion. If I’m to use a poop analogy here this poop is like the fourth of July firework finale, compared to any other poop I’ve experienced. Making sure the pressure did it’s job I give another push and get the last bit out. It’s certainly not solid, but it’s not completely liquid either. I would say it is something in between the normal stew like poop that I have experienced and a complete watery diarrhea. Feeling completely relieved and forgetting about my forearm holding my body up by the tree I just relax for a second. Oh geez, I haven’t thought about probably the most important part of all of this. The wiping! As I’m calming down from the big ordeal I can feel the sweat pouring down my face and how fatigued I really am. My energy picks up at the thought of needing to wipe and I start to tear pages out of my notebook. It’s really gross, but much better than not wiping at all. Then, as my perception of my surroundings begins to return I look up and see a man walking along the side path right in front of me. I freeze, trying not to attract his attention. I’m basically standing there naked as I have my shirt up by my forehead to dry the sweat and my pants and boxers around my ankles to avoid and spray. I could just imagine what it might look like form his direction. A young white man, who they already don’t see very often, standing right in the middle of the open, completely naked, holding a piece of notebook paper covered in poop. He passes and I furiously start to tear out pages to end this ordeal and get home. I check my boxers and the damage from the premature release of pressure isn’t too bad. I expected a lot worse. I wipe that bit off and I can’t even really tell. All this has happened within about a minute from the explosion of poop and I’m already surrounded by flies. The smell has now hit me and I nearly gag as I catch a whiff of the smell of something that died a long time ago in my stomach and is now finally able to decompose on the ground. I get more pieces and now I’m a little more aware and quite worried about more people coming by. Of course there are two other people now coming down the path. It is probably very rare that people ever go down this path, but of course Murphy’s Law has to find it’s way into my day. I’m now just realizing how bad this spot actually was picked. I can see the people perfectly and my ghost white legs are probably like someone took a highlighter to a once familiar picture. With all my dignity gone, I can’t even look at the people. I don’t even know what I would say to them, in English or Twi. I can hear them talking, but I drown out the words in absolute fear that they are talking about the naked boy covered in his own poop over by the tree, three damn feet from the path. I try my best not to move as this second group of people passes. Right when they get directly in front me in on the path, my phone starts to ring. It must be Isaac calling me back. I quickly squeeze the phone with a vice like grip, hoping to either silence or smash it into a million piece, which ever comes first. I manage to get it to stop ringing. I’m so distracted with the phone that I forget about the group of people. This time I didn’t look at them because I was just too occupied. I finally muster the strength to look back up and they are further down the path, watching where they are going. I’m positive they heard the phone and probably looked over at me. I don’t look to see if they turned around at all. The phone rings a second time, but I ignore it and try to get the hell out of there. Now that was just the icing that Murphey had to make sure to include on the cake. I finally finish wiping and check my pants for any splash damage. I don’t see any, but the smell is so bad that I’m worried it will stick with me as I try to find a ride home. I put my clothes back on and hurry away from the spot of the incident. I pick up my box of chalk that I forgot I had thrown on the ground. Actually I would have to be aware of that in the first place in order to forget it, but I don’t think it ever entered my consciousness. I take a big sigh of relief as I realize that it’s all over and things could have gone much worse.
I meet Isaac in town and give him the materials to make the program run smoothly. Then I wait for a car and to my surprise one comes within a few minutes. I luck out because this car is headed straight to Antoa. I take it in all the way to right in front of my house. I don’t greet anyone as I rush into my compound. I quickly fill up a bucket and get a bar of soap. I soap myself up and down to make sure I clean every nook and cranny. Then I put on fresh clothes and rest in my room. I start to write my mom an email to discuss the reoccurrence of my stomach problems to have her check and make sure I don’t have anything more serious than some stomach pain. In the middle of my email to her I get the feeling back again that I need to poop and it’s coming whether I like it or not. This time I’m prepared and the back of the toilet is already filled and the toilet paper and book in the room. I cut up the pineapple that the ladies gave me and enjoy it very much. I’ve always loved pineapple, especially when it was just picked from the ground the same day and traveled less than a mile before it was sold and eaten. I especially love the core of the pineapple where it becomes a bit tougher. The texture isn’t as nice, but it’s much sweater and almost tastes like it’s the pineapple’s milk. I have to make one more trip to the bathroom and when Daniel gets home he gets me an oral rehydrator to help. Naturally, I read the directions on the back, partially to learn how to take it and partially to be amused by the quality of instructions. There are four steps highlighted with pictures of the symptoms and a detailed description below. Number one says “In diarrhoea attacks, we must fight back.” The picture is of a small child squatting naked, actually much like in the position I was in today, and an adult leaning over to put their hand on the child’s shoulder. It’s in an awful sketched type artwork. They even drew the poop coming out as a oval shaped scribble. Step number 2 says, “Pour the entire sachet content in 600 ml (one beer bottle full) of water.” I’m not even kidding you, this is too good to make up. Apparently these are given out to alcoholics? Or maybe just people who don’t have access to any other form of measurement, like a cup of rice or bottle of water. The picture then shows a person pouring the contents from a beer bottle and the sachet of medicine into a large bowl. Step three says, “mix the solution with a spoon.” This step is actually quite boring. It shows and says exactly what to do here, no fun. Okay, back to the funny steps. Step four says, “manage the obtained solution with a spoon.” Saying to manage the solution makes it sound like I have to drink something awful and maybe not even entirely liquid. The picture shows an adult with a spoon-feeding the solution to a small child. Apparently children are the only ones who get diarrhea. Or maybe they’re the only ones that don’t just pour the sachet into some water without caring what the package says. Hey, did I just call myself a child!?
Anyway, that was my day today. To tie things back into my title, I’m really not sure what was the most embarrassing part of the day. It was either the fact that I, as a full grown adult, pooped in my pants or that I was spotted basically naked in the bush holding onto a tree to support myself as something explodes behind me. Either way, whenever I’m asked to explain my most embarrassing moment I will have to start the story from the beginning.
I’m about to go through my pre bed routine and I actually feel pretty great. I guess when the storms in Ghana hit they hit hard, but they also end fast. I’m a little disappointed because I didn’t get to fetch water with Fadilla again tonight and learn more about her. I will need to get some water in the morning so that way everyone in the compound has something to do their tasks with. And now I leave you saying Dayie, which means sleep well. Pronounced deyyie. Ochena! Meaning tomorrow. Those two things are generally what I say when I know I’m leaving someone for the night and will see them the next day.