Saturday, January 24, 2009

Steamy Saturday Afternoon Storytime

Oh yum - V just gave me a taste of his latest salsa - we have a bumper crop of chillies here (thai, cerrano, jalopeno, anaheim, banana and habernero) and we are constantly looking for ways to make the masses we harvest into edible, lastable impressions. This one is fantastic!!

Anyhow, thanks for all your very wonderful suggestions as to how frogs were not the most scary things to find in a bathroom - it brought to mind a trip to a school camp when I was younger, and as it is a very wet and steamy Saturday afternoon with only a few games of cards and zucchini to prepare for dinner ahead of me, I thought I might take you with me to visit the scariest toilet scene in my memory bank.

The year was 1985. The destination was the annual Year 11 camp at Blackdown Tableland, where we were to spend time learning all manner of things natural and beautiful - but the lasting impression that we came away with was that of the local fauna and their ability to mess with the minds of 16 year-old girls.

Imagine this - 160km on buses with 60 other girls and several long-suffering teachers. The campgrounds are primitive even now, with the dirt for your tent, the stone rings for your fire and the composting toilets. It was roughing it - and roughing it, on this scale, was not often afforded to 16 year old girls more used to the privations of boarding school.

Imagine this - food barbecued over open fires and the swoops of native birdlife attacking your sustenance on its travel from fire to plate.

Imagine this - bushwalks every day through pristine wilderness (complete with pristine spider webs and the potential of snakes at every corner), washing up in waterholes (with frogs and eels), complete lack of sanitation and privacy, mud, rain, tents - isn't it all so romantic?

And then there were the toilets. Composting toilets give the impression of all things organic - in all senses. Add 60 odd sixteen year old girls and the ablutions of a few days, heavy rain and mud surroundings and you might get part of an idea.

And then add the myth idea of the mad magpie living in the pit.

Oh yes, never were we so glad to see civilisation - and the throne of respectability available.

Good thing I wasn't into chillies so much then.

It hasn't (totally) ruined me for camping. But it has made my standards include showers and bird-free toilets. Its not too much to ask.

So come on - one-ups welcome!


BB said...

Ummm... exactly the same story as you, two years earlier but DIGGING OWN TOILETS!

Yuh-huh! And I call you...

MissyBoo said...

No thanks! The thought just FREAKS me right out. Hence, I do not camp even public ablution blocks are pushing the limits!

Anonymous said...

I loved camping when I was in girl guides, but mine was totally civilised by what you have shared.

My hardest ordeal was the mosquitos.

Jayne said...

Last time I went camping I started a (minor) bushfire that took 2 of the local CFA trucks nearly 2 hours to put out, blocked a major highway and almost took out a property where car racing fuel was stored which would have wiped the (small country) town off the map.

Maude Lynn said...

Camping? What is this camping of which you speak?


therapydoc said...

Frogs in the bathroom!!!

jeanie said...

Bush Babe - is that a "you were lucky" one-up I see there?

M+B - lol - campgrounds are nicer, in general, than public loos.

WS - I agree - hiding from mosquitoes doesn't help either.

Jayne - brilliant one-up there. Well done!!

MamaZen - it would be a sadistic ritual visited upon schoolchildren in the name of "edumacation"

Anonymous said...

How's this one:

On a safari in the wilds of Botswana. We had to take a dugout canoe to get to our destination. Which was the middle of nowhere. We had to be entirely self-sufficient. Food was cooked on an open fire. We had to dig our toilet before we could use it. There was absolutely no sanitation whatsoever (I thanked many times the friends in England who gave me hand sanitiser as a joke farewell present).

Sidenote: the whole time I was in Africa, what I wanted to see most of all was a leopard.

Back to the story. In the middle of the night, nature called. To the point where I just could not ignore it. So I took my torch and edged my way to the pit toilet. Which was well hidden, for privacy, but consequently, also made it easy for local wildlife to treat that area as their own McDonalds (well, that's what my mind was telling me).

I'm not a religious person at all, but while squatting over the pit, I prayed. "Please God, if I never see a leopard in the wild ever, ever, EVER, that's fine. Just DON'T let me see one now!"

I survived.

I never saw a leopard.

I will never forget the fear!!

Crazed Nitwit said...

To me "camping" is a hotel w/o room service. ;)

Debby said...

Crazed mom's comment reminds me. I had a friend who claimed that her idea of 'roughing it' was a bad mattress in a good hotel.


Imagine this...slightly spoiled 18 year old who had joined the army reserve ( it was all about the uniforms ) who went to a regular military base for a weekend training with her unit. Got to drive trucks and jeeps she did. But they expected her to wander in the woods and the toilet facilities consisted of a log over a trench.
NO WAY NO HOW. This young lady had used outdoor loos at summer camp but this was beyond the pale.

Imagine this....she somehow managed to talk one of the officers into driving her back to the overnight quarters and even had his coat thrown over her shoulders as she rushed in the door. The staff on duty saluted as she made a mad dash for the toilets, and running water, and warmth.

I've camped 3 times since I got married and each time managed convince Paul to find camp grounds with flushing toilets.
After enduring rain on every trip I informed him that the next time we camped it would be in a hotel parking lot and at the first sign of rain I was checking in.

Anonymous said...

The comments alone had me laughing. No one upmanship here, just a lot of nodding and empathising.
I do like camping, very much. I do like coming home afterwatrds, very very much. Notice the difference?

jeanie said...

Tanya - I think the prospect of a little leopard activity would bind me, quite frankly - or not...

Crazed Mom - oh my - I have only ever indulged in room service when on work junkets!

Debby - too cute.

Elizabeth - obviously one very compelling 18 year old there.

Rhubarbwhine - besides the spelling? lol I am in the same camp as you.

Woman in a Window said...

And you PAID for said camping. That wasn't camping. That was some girls reformatory prison.

(Do you ever do cillantro in your salsa. ummmmmmm)

jeanie said...

Woman in a Window - over here, its called coriander - and yes indeedy. mmmmmmmmm-mmmmh.

Lin said...

On my last camping trip one morning - when I happened to be very grumpy! - someone put a note on one of the compost toilet's door that read "Funnel web spider web behind toilet!!! Do not use!!!" Noone tells me what to do when I'm grumpy. I looked at the note, then I looked at the line in front of the only remaining toilet and opened the door. I checked behind the toilet where there was indeed an elaborate funnel web spider web, assessed the age of the web, it's proximaty to where my bum would be when seated and calculated that the likelihood of a dangerous attack was significantly smaller than the annoyance that would result from having to line up to go to the loo at that time of the morning and in my current mood. I would've been a lot more scared if it would've been a magpie though! Those beady little eyes and sharp beaks and too many swooping experiences to ever fully trust them again.