Stand and be Happy or Give Me a Bush! - Rota, Spain, 1974 FOR E BOOK

There was one thing that I did not like at all about living in Spain. Guess what that was?!

The public toilet!  No only was it a question of dealing with the oddest of odd toilets which tended to be a hole in the ground, but it was also the extreme lack of said public toilet. Beggars can't be choosers, and I guess a hole in the ground, if you were lucky enough to come across it, was better than the rear end of a bush.  As for the toilet paper, well, don't get me started. It was like brown wrapping paper.

One day,  I was driving along a narrow country road going towards Rota.  Maybe I should have used a rest room before setting out, but, who would think that there wouldn't be any toilets ANYWHERE?! Rather than hide behind a bush, I stopped at a teeny tiny bar at the side of the road hoping there would be a public toilet. Please, show me the hole in the ground so that I may stand and be happy!

"Can I help you, senorita?"  What a pleasant man. He smiled at me, pleased that he had a customer.

Desperate as I was, before I even ordered a sherry or gaseosa, I blurt out, "Is there a toilet here?"

"Of course, of course. Senorita, of course."  He seemed pretty definite that there was a toilet. Good news.

"My aunt will escort you."

What? His aunt will escort me?  Why?

"I'll be able to find it. Thank you, anyway."  I was trying to be nice and polite. Just tell me where the bloody toilet is so that I can end my misery.

A woman appeared from behind the beaded curtain at the back of the bar. She was short and chubby and was wiping her hands on her dress. She looked like a nun, dressed completely in black. She was wearing a long gold chain and hanging from it were a medallion and a crucifix. In the medallion was the photo of someone. I wondered whose photo it was?

"Senorita, you want to use the bano?"

I was practically jumping up and down at this stage, but I managed to blurt out, "Yes, could you tell me where the toilet is?"

"I'll escort you."  She extended her arm as if to show me outside.

Gosh, where was the toilet? Outside? I didn't see any toilet when I parked my car.

"Come with me, senorita."

She beckoned me to follow her outside into the late afternoon sun. Where were we going?

Next to the bar was a shack, for want of a better word.

"Come, come with me." She's grinned, revealing really ugly teeth. Her face was like the land, all dried up and lined, and she smelled of garlic and strong cheese.

Now, I wasn't sure what was going on, but my bladder was in dire distress, so I had no choice but to follow her.

"In you go." She indicated the shack.

Oh, the toilet was in the shack?  Odd.

It was dark inside and there were no windows. After fumbling for a switch I began to think that perhaps the electricity has been turned off?  Or worse, maybe there wasn't any electricity. I hoped the old woman wasn't going to mug me, I really did.

I had to strain and strain my eyes in order to see. It was worse than being inside a picture house.

Guess what I saw?

A bucket!

I wasn't sure if the bucket was empty. While weird images flashed around in my mind the man's aunt announced, "I'll stand guard. In case my nephew or any of the other men come in."

I felt so very rude and ungrateful when I declined the use of the bucket. I mumbled something that even I didn't understand and started to back out of the shack.  I don't know what shocked me more, doing the toilet in a bucket that others may have used and whose bodily excretions could very well be still lurking around. Yikes!  Or, having the woman stand guard as I emptied my bladder.

The human body is strong. Its fortitude knows no boundaries. Somehow I clenched my bladder with every muscle and convinced myself that relieving myself behind a bush was much, much better for my health, my sanity, even my modesty.