Last week I blogged about the ignominious end to my dream of travelling down the coast of Australia in a tall-ship and it got me to thinking about other travel adventures—or misadventures, that I have enjoyed.
Suffice to say, I am an inveterate traveller and that means that I have no reservation in packing up my children and exploring the world with them. And often, the most stressful moments can turn out to be the most humorous.
Take for instance a trip we undertook not too many years ago backpacking through Russia and Eastern Europe. Our daughters were aged all of five and three. And yes, I did say backpacking!
My youngest daughter’s experiences will be best remembered in recounting her toilet visits—charming, you say!
Somewhere between Australia and the sights of St Petersburg little miss developed a marked aversion to public conveniences. She was convinced that the toilets on the plane were going to suck her out; on the train she was going to fall through the hole in the floor and onto the tracks; and as for the rest, well it all just offended her delicate sensibilities.
There are those in Russia who are likely never to forget my youngest daughter. For some she has made a lasting impression, one that may haunt them till their last breath!
Let me set the scene. Imagine a peaceful inner-city park with a bank of blue port-a-loos lined up against the perimeter fence, each standing slightly independent of the other but united in distributing their pungent chemical odours across the park. Add to that a stern faced babushka soliciting thirteen roubles for the privilege to pee. Now imagine a little girl tugging on her mother’s jacket crying: “Mummy I need to doe toy-yet, mummy I need to doe toy-yet nowwwww!”
I eyed the bank of port-a-loos suspiciously while I paid the babushka the requisite thirteen roubles and shot my husband a look that told him I’d noticed his feigned interest with the flowerbeds.
Resigned to my fate, I opened the door of the odorous port-a-loo and gingerly stepped up onto the suspiciously wet floor inside. So far, so good… I leant down to lift my small child up into the convenience when, mid lift she looks beyond me into the commode and begins to kick and struggle and repeatedly scream… “No, I don’t want to doe; no I don’t need to doe!”
A prolonged struggle ensued until, finally, I succeeded in getting little miss inside the port-a-loo. Inhaling my last lungful of fresh air, I closed the door and commenced trying to sufficiently undress her so that she may “doe toy-yet”.
Little miss has other ideas… she was now desperately trying to escape the confinement while continuing to scream, “No, I don’t want to doe, no, I don’t need to doe!”
Afterwards, my husband took great delight in describing to me how an eerie quiet had descended upon the park as a gathering of onlookers that included my other daughter, the stern faced babushka, a soldier and other unnamed spectators watched on in fascination as the ‘toy-yet’ began to shake and shudder and the frantic screams of: “No, I don’t want to doe; no I don’t need to doe!” pierced the air.
Back inside, I continued to wrestle with my child, convinced that I was about to fall out the door at any moment, or worse, the whole convenience would topple over. Having finally succeeded in seating the child upon the ‘toy-yet’ I breathed a sigh of relief until mid-pee and still crying, “No, I don’t want to doe; no I don’t need to doe!” she spied an insect that resembled a mosquito suffering from gigantism. I mean, that was one bloody big monster of a mosquito!
Holding the panicked and still peeing child on the commode and facing the risk of being engulfed by a major flood should I lose my balance, I then launched a deadly assault upon the hapless insect. Seconds later the child cheerfully announced: “Finished”, hoped off the ‘toy-yet’ and bounced out the door.
Outside an air of disbelief hung suspended over the park until, slowly, the birds resumed their song, the squirrels emerged from hiding and her father, older sister, the stern faced babushka, the soldier and other unnamed spectators shook their heads and tried to assimilate all that they had just witnessed.
It’s probably just as well the majority of those spectators weren’t at Rome’s Trevi Fountain three years later when said daughter decided, with a fist full of pennies, to make a wish–one penny at a time!