Let me tell you a tale about a shit. Not a human shit, like ‘he’s a piece of shit’, but a good old fashioned number 2. Well a number 2 in name only. You see this was no ordinary number 2. For this is the saga of the gravity shit.
I haven’t been embarrassed in years. Being the poorest, dirtiest, sometimes homeless kid in my elementary class built a tough skin, and that tough skin was impermeable to shame through my ascent into adulthood. I didn’t need to get baptized to know that only god could judge me. I can’t remember the last time I felt embarrassment before this episode. Maybe when I thought I lost my virginity at 13, bragged about it all summer, only to return to school and find that I’d barely pierced through the labia, when she let the entire 8th grade know it didn’t do what it was supposed to do, with explicit detail on how I came too fast and creampied her to boot.
I have to preface these details with the fact that I was sick. I am not sure how it happened; if I got food poisoning my first night, sitting in an open air market, with with complete strangers from Norway turned friends, comparing sagas of manhood and finger foods at Nuestra Tierra Restaurante, or if i was plagued by the American expats, with their hands covered with bovine germs, just returned from working on a ranch in the Guanacaste region. Maybe I got sick my first morning there, from the spoon I used to stir my coffee, dipping it and cleaning it in a cup of water I now suspect was teeming with bacteria. It sat outside on a counter for who knows how many hours or days/weeks/months before I picked it up and used it to ladle sugar. Maybe it was the kissing cheeks and shaking hands with the local girls at the University of Costa Rica, or the young locals in the city with their dirty hippy ways who shared a bottle of rum with me in the Parque Nacianol. Maybe it was the weird piece of fruit with the brown shell wrapped in little white hairs that I ate without question, because you know, when in Rome. I am not 100% sure it was giardia, but whatever, it slowly took control of my body.
I noticed the loose shits the next morning. I’ve traveled before and I know the stomach changes a bit when it has to digest food or water that doesn’t have the same processing that we have here in the states, so it wasn’t anything initially, but things changed when the next night came.
Unfortunately, when that night came, I wasn’t alone. That’s the thing about hostels. They fit like 12 to a room sometimes. They are a great way to meet people, but offer no privacy. And this is the crux of the embarrassment. I met a couple of beautiful European girls, Cindy from Sweden and Emily from Holland, sitting poolside at the Costa Rica Backpackers hostel the day I checked in. The hostel forced us all out on day two. They already booked every room to the Peace Corps or some shit like that. If I cared, I’d write a bad review on TripAdvisor or something. But hostels are a dime a dozen in San Jose. We banded together and walked a few miles to the nearest hostel, continuing the conversations began the night before. There, or somewhere in between the two hostels, our group made acquaintance with a couple more English speaking girls, Kim from Australia and Shara from Norway. And suddenly I was one guy walking the streets of San Jose with four beautiful girls and a dick full of possibilities. We booked a shared room at the next place, Hostel Pangea, and began assault on our bodies with everyone’s preferred weapon of choice, grain alcohol. Straight shots. We played whatever drinking games got us fucked us fastest. The girls twerked against the wall (not bad for some white girls I might say, albeit they were twerking to The Spice Girls) and we drank and talked dirty, telling our wildest travel stories and what roads brought us to that moment. They were a bit younger, but a bit past legal, so in the back of my mind, I thought, well, if nothing better comes around, maybe/why not?. But after a couple of days of hanging out, I felt like the big brother,schooling them on the conversion of dollars to colones, and protecting them from hagglers and crooked shopkeepers as we marched the calles and avenidas of downtown San Jose. They were now cute teenagers with tits. My attraction waned; but if there was even a chance at making any action, it was ruined by the night’s end. Because that night, I took a gravity shit, right in the middle of the hostel floor. I’ll tell you.
We managed to find a nightclub locals frequent called La Concha DeLa Lora. My first night, I’d relied on Yelp and other US travel sights and was repeatedly directed to brothels in bars or bars in brothels. I don’t do sex tourism bro. I spent the next morning on the campus of University of Costa Rica, figuring out what places the locals enjoyed. I had a list for every night so after dark, our group made our way there, a La Concha. With the bit of Spanish I knew, I was macking my ass off on every pretty girl moving. “Mire a mi mami? No! Pobrecito porque? Porque yo mirando a ti mami!”. Inside, I stood out like a sore thumb, towering over every muchacho, and I took advantage of it, dancing with every girl in arms reach before repelling back to the bar or to the patio for air and a cigarette with the girls. They ordered a pizza and I volunteered to pick it up since I was going by the bar any fucking way. I got distracted and bee lined to another table first and struck conversation with four girls in cute, sheer black and white outfits, and long and/or curly black tresses draped over hipster glasses. They were from the university. The cutest one said she remembered me from a few days before because I stopped her on campus to ask about parties. I am happy that I can understand Spanish better and faster than I can say it. She said she was happy that I came out and touched my knees gently as she stared into my eyes, which was pretty much the only sign I needed to know that she was the one for the night. Her friends were not at all repulsed by my novice Spanish or my handsy feelsy flirting and warmed to me in minutes, giggling and whispering to each other as we tried our best to bridge the communication barrier, talking about nothing and one thing all at the same time. I moved from girl to girl, assembling game like a factory line. I’d say something to the first girl, then try to say something funnier or dirtier or sexier to the next and so on, until ”Hola, se recuerda a mi mami” became “Nosotros puedemos duermer en la misma cama a noche verdad? Porque no! and a table full of giggles”. They were enjoying themselves, or playing the role well. It looked like these girls were figuring out who was going to win and I was the trophy. After a few minutes of playing Rico Suave, my bunkmate Kim comes over, takes a seat, and smacks me across the face. She doesn’t swing savagely, but in that gray area between gently correcting a toddler and a sex punch, right in front of the college girls, ending our flirtation in one fell Aussie swoop. The slap demolished whatever rapport I’d built with them. Spanish girls do machismo and from the looks on their faces, and unwillingness to pickup the conversation, this blond chick had all the machismo at this table now, so I tucked my nuts in and bid them goodnight and made my way back to my group. Get Pizza or Die Trying I guess, right Kim.
The night wound down and we returned to the room. I noticed a bit of a bubbleguts thing but thought it was just the pizza and beer. The alcohol kept me hostage through the night and with little water, I wasn’t surprised to have the dehydrated squirts. I shitted and showered and fell asleep instantly, exhausted drunk and entirely depleted of electrolytes and all the other shit that keeps a brain from banging against the inside of one’s skull. I slept a bit. I woke. I ran to the restroom to shit. I went back to bed and slept. Another hour and I am back at it, running to el bano to shit then back to bed to sleep. After another hour, it happens again. Something is definitely wrong. I was shitting everything dead inside of me, until the stool ran lime green. It looked like I gave the Grinch a haircut in there. I felt my stomach boiling like a cauldron, rolling as the lining ripped from the inside and dripped through my asshole into the bowels of the hostel then to who knows where before going to the Caribbean sea. This time, I hopped in the shower and waited it out. And it felt like I made it. So I went back to sleep and fall out like a rock. Finally.
This is where things get bad. This is where things get weird. This is where things get hazy. The next morning, we woke to find a big puddle of brown greasy shit on the floor by the door, forcing us to lily pad jump around it. Emily had been up for a few hours. Her bunk was right next to it. She had a tough look that morning from not sleeping. The other girls rolled out of bed as well, all in awe. We didn’t know who did it.
“It’s got beans in it” Emily said. “I don’t even eat beans.”
“I don’t eat gluten, so I wouldn’t eat beans”, Cindy added. That limited the lineup. The other two girls were not copping to it either. I denied it. Admantly. I barely slept from dealing with my stomach trouble. I wondered if someone took a shit in our room. It wouldn’t have been hard for one of the hotel staff to open the door and shit on the floor. I think they were a bit pissed at us because we criticized a few things, but I didn’t think it was this bad. This to me seemed the most likely reason to rise to a fresh puddle of shit at dawn
Now, I’d been drunk for an entire week. Keep this in mind. I didn’t care that my stomach couldn’t digest food properly. I learned to eat only when I was 30 minutes from resting or 30 seconds near a restroom. I had control of my belly. I wouldn’t let it stop me from drinking. If food wasn’t going to stay in, liquor certainly would. I got shitfaced to deal. I couldn’t find the energy to write, so I spent all of my time drinking and walking the streets taking pictures and talking with locals, asking “Donde esta la proximo bano?” at every stop. I dealt with the stomach bug while there then carried the giardia bacteria back to the states when I came back stateside. On the final night there, I decided to lay off the liquor to be sure I was ready to go at noon the next day. I woke early and decided to take one last walk through the city. It helped to cleanse the toxins. I looked like shit. This was my first backpacking experience and I managed to carry the stench of everlasting adventure under my arms a bit too long. My face was beaten by heat and my forehead began to peel like a raisin. Only at the equator can a man as dark as me get sunburned I thought. I chugged quart after quart of water and Gatorade as I walked and snapped pics of the graffiti lining the city walls. Then on the corner of Calle 33 and Avenida 1, at the apex of the city, with the sun casting a shadow on everything but me, it hit me like a vision from god. It was fleeting and not entirely clear but I had my moment of clarity. I probably took a shit from the top bunk. A gravity shit.
I am not sure I did, and I denied it then, but now I think I did. It couldn’t have been the girls who didn’t eat beans. What comes out must go in. So that rules out two. And it was closer to me. Though I didn’t have a shit covered bed, I had shit stains at the foot of the bed. I remember Emily pushing me away when I mistakenly tried to get into her bed on my return from the shitter. I must have stepped in the shit puddle then, because my long pajamas had shit on the ankles too, which stained the foot of my bed. I didn’t have shit on me and my underwear was clean as a whistle. I remembered climbing down the bed and running to the bathroom a few times. I remember taking a couple shits and a couple of showers. I was piecing clues together to figure it out, but the details were vague. My brain and body were tired. I was auto pilot still. I tried to remember as I walked down the hill but the details began to fade as I got more tired. Did I climb down the ladder and bend over the floor like a dog and let it go? Did I come back from a shower naked and release before I could open the door and return to the shit pit? Did I dangle my ass over the top bunk and drop a gravity shit, hanging anus in the wind as poop flew out my bunghole? Who knows what more I could have done in that state if I don’t remember taking a shit from the top bunk?
I recalled our conversation the morning after, and the girls with their kind faces, and Emily’s gentle coaxing as she tried pushing my memory to the now evident truth. It wasn’t in a European girls nature to be rude and if I didn’t want to cop to the shit puddle, she, they would let me slide. I took the shit, more than likely and its possible she saw it. I don’t know how I did it, but I’d like to think I straddled the bunk ladder with my ass poked out, pushed and let gravity do the rest, letting it splatter like pudding and drip like glaze from my ass to the the floor, painting the floor like a canvas from Jackson Pollock.