We pulled up at a truck stop. I asked if there was a toilet and was told there was a special washroom - just for ladies. I was a little surprised but quite hopeful that it might not be as wretched as many of the desert stops we had encountered on our journey. I was pointed in the direction of a tumbledown hut about 50 metres behind the cafe. I had nearly reached the door when one of the staff from the cafe came running towards me clutching a light bulb. I was beginning to have my doubts and one step into the hut confirmed my worst suspicions.
It was indeed a special washroom - so special, in fact, that it was the worst I had ever, ever, ever been in, and after years of backpacking and global motorcycle travel I have been in a fair few! Pitch black, ankle- deep in every kind of muck and swimming in every kind of human liquid.
I about-turned immediately - to get some fresh air and to find some quiet spot to relieve my bladder in the open countryside. No such luck. Four coaches and about a dozen trucks had descended on the cafe - the place was swarming with people, with most of the men relieving themselves behind and in front of the "ladies washroom". Dungarees, leather jeans, one-piece waterproofs - my standard biking gear - is not conducive to having a quick pee. It takes time to take it all down and pull it all back up again. So if I decided to just go outside I would be easily noticed - and fair hair doesn't help either. Back to the washroom-from-hell, then.
I went to the doorless cubicle nearest the hut entrance - fresher air I thought - and started about my business. Within two minutes I had had two visitors.
The first, the light-bulb-bringer, thought I had got lost and was checking to see I was all right. In my best Egyptian Arabic and a bit of sign language I assured him I was fine. Little did he know. The second was rather more alarming. As I was about to crouch over the hole in the floor, I noticed the beady eyes of a large rat sitting just there. I was so revolted I froze - in fact it gives me the shivers just thinking about it now. He stared at me for a few moments - it felt like an age - before popping down the hole.
I gritted my teeth and got on with the job in hand, convinced that he was going to leap up and bite me on the backside. I didn't like the look in his eye.
I could hear scuffling around me - either the rat was back, or some of his friends had come to check me out. I clambered frantically back into my biking gear.
I decided that, next time, I would opt for truck drivers watching me pee rather than rodents, and I was just thankful I hadn't put the light bulb in.Reuse content