At this point we’ve been on the road for nine months. Try to explain to people that you’re cycling from Alaska to Argentina and you’re generally probed with various articulations of the same interrogatory prattle.
“How do you pay for it?”
“Isn’t Argentina in Africa?”
“Can’t you just fly?”
And my personal favorite:
“You know they’re beheading Americans left and right in Mexico dontcha?”
Nobody seeks enlightenment respecting the daily ritual of locating a place to evacuate one’s bowels in a life of perpetual motion. I suppose it is easier to romanticize a vision of forever surfing tail winds or riding gravity down rolling foothills to secluded beaches. In the event that this is merely due to a fear of violating cultural norms, here are some stories and nuggets of wisdom for the intestinally curious.
The US has the filthiest public restrooms. It may have to do with aim or perhaps it is an endemic credence that micturating while sitting is a direct threat to one’s masculinity.
Outhouses in British Columbia have the worst smell. It is inexplicably reminiscent of spoiled Spaghetti O’s.
Mexican toilets are so clean that it makes one wonder if they ever get used.
Inhabitants of both the US and Canada are notably perfunctory to modernize the obligatory “Fuck (current president’s name)” scrawlings after an election. These changes seem to be pushed as seamlessly as updating a website and all evidence of previous heads of state is somehow removed. Mexico generally does not participate in bathroom graffiti.
Don’t shit where you sleep
Bears have a strong sense of smell and are naturally curious.
The best place to squat in Mexico
23.5273570 Latitude, -105.8261650 Longitude
Six thousand feet up in the Sierra Madre. I took this photo during sunrise just after what was one of the most memorable defecations of my life. No cat hole needed. The meadow muffin rolled off a cliff and into a boundless chasm of decomposition.
Urinating on a fire to put it out is a terrible idea
An acrid steam rises from the coals. Unless your plan is to further extinguish things with the vomit caused by said smell you best find a shrub.
Low hanging fruit
One day I realized I was peeing into a blackberry bush. From this day forward I only ate drupelets growing above waist level.
Piss in the ocean after dark
Soph woke me up one night on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.
“You have to pee in the surf,” she said.
Although confused, I followed her instructions. This was my intro to bioluminescent algae. The water turns a bright blue-green around anything that moves. For men, I recommend trying to write your name.
I was once suddenly struck with traveler’s diarrhea while in the shower. There was no time to get to the toilet. I managed to remove the cover from the floor drain and evacuate without leaving a trace.
Rocking the boat
I was taking a leak on the ferry from Mazatlán to La Paz. It was two in the morning, the bathroom was next to the bar, and the seas were rough. People had been missing the target all night. I didn’t notice it at first because the boat was leaning to the side of the can, but as it shifted I found myself being chased by a puddle of piss. I was wearing sandals. I panicked. In retreat I ended up with more than a bit of dribble on my pants.
Busses present a similar danger but with smaller, albeit, more violent displacement. A Mexican pothole can easily send a dookie leaping out of the bowl.
Time equals money
Truckers are notorious consumers of various diuretics. With draconian deadlines, constantly stopping to use the toilet cuts into profits. If you see a used Coca-Cola bottle on the side of the road filled with something that looks like urine, it is urine.
Spare change, paper, water, dirt under the fingernails……
Being able to use a bathroom for free is not a given south of the border. The going rate is five pesos in Mexico. This typically includes paper but you should always carry a stack of napkins. As you move south, wiping material becomes more of a luxury as do mechanical flushing devices. Often times there will be a pitcher of water for wiping (use your imagination) and a large bucket next to the toilet that gets dumped into the bowl to force a flush. Often times they lack a seat so it is best to make sure your quads are in decent shape.
4 squares folded down to the size of one. Wipe, fold, wipe, fold. Don’t crumble.
If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.
1 – If only peeing, there is no need to dismount. Simply pull over, turn your back to the road, and unzip. The bike blocks the view. You can hold your phone in your free hand and drivers will think you’re lost or sending a text.
2 – A more challenging, but more efficient, technique is to relieve yourself while riding. I am told that this is an old Italian trick. I have explored various physical positions and cannot yet confirm whether or not it is simply lore, although I have my suspicions as to its validity. Perhaps if you are willing to accept a bit of a mess on your shorts it is possible. That being said, I would not attempt if the crotch of your trousers has a zipper……
You can't bank on finding a place to hide. Be quick and be aware of traffic coming your way
Squat with your legs parallel to the road, unless you are an exhibitionist....
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Having traveled extensively in Mexico I concur with your observations on performing constitutionals in that great country. However, presently I’m in non-tourist areas of Portugal and the similarities are stinking . . . er, striking. The art of reliving one’s self is, indeed, a learned performance art.