Wandering Thoughts

November 8, 2009

The Dangers of Dorms

Filed under: Going Places — terence @ 7:50 pm
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The youth hostel dorm in Quetzaltenango was lots of things. It was bustling. It was friendly. It was anarchic. It was communal. A single room, a tin roof, plywood walls and 30 beds in rows, it was home to aged hippies and earnest Spanish students. It was busy, it was transient, it was a good place to meet people. It was not restful. Plastic bags cackled through the night. People stumbled in the dark. Toilets flushed. The French woman three beds down snored like a hibernating bear. After a while I got used to it. The sub-conscious sentinels that keep watch during sleep relaxed a little. Decided that I didn’t need to be woken with every noise. They relaxed but not so much so as to stop me from waking in an instant, when a drunken Dane peed on the floor nearby. The sound was unmistakeable.

“Hey!” I didn’t need to say anything. An outraged American, even closer to the urine stream, was springing to action.
“Huh”
“Not here. The toilet. The toilet.”
“Nuugghhh.”
“THE TOILET”
“Auuggghhh” The weeing stopped and he shambled off.
I pulled my pack up onto my bed and slept next to it for the rest of the night.

The next morning the Danish guy didn’t remember a thing. Drunk. Sleep walking. The urine had already soaked into the floor.

Three months later and a long way further south, in a much smaller room in Puerto Natales, I woke to the same sound. This time there were only four of us. Me, Christine the French Canadian, and Sandra and Eddie, two English travelling companions. We’d just walked round the Torres del Paine. And had celebrated that night by getting pleasantly drunk.

Once again. I didn’t have to say anything. Sandra was closer to the action.
“Eddie? Eddie! Good God Eddie what are you doing?” Sandra, was well heeled, with an accent from an expensive school somewhere. Her tone I thought was just about right for the situation. Eddie, however, was having none of it.
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m having a piss.”
His voice had a grumpy certainty to it. Quite convincing, and for a moment, still only half awake I wondered whether peeing on the floor was normal after all. Or, at least, normal where Eddie came from.

He finished his toileting and got back into bed and for a moment there was silence. Sandra was clearly as confused as me. And if Christine was awake she wasn’t saying anything. Maybe it really was normal. Maybe…
“Arrrrgghhhhh!” That was Eddie. “Where are we?”
“The youth hostel in Puerto Natales.” My chance to contribute to the conversation.
“And I was just…”
“Pissing on the floor.” Sandra finished the sentence for Eddie. Sounding rather cross.
“Fuck. I thought we were still on the trail. I was outside the tent. I couldn’t figure out why you were asking.”
“Right.”
Christine began to giggle.
“Maybe,” I wondered aloud, “you might want to mop that up?”

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