I suffer the risk of death while you simply have to suffer my horrible grammar.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Having a Threesome with a Turtle

Basia and I headed to the Guatemalan coast to help break our icecream addiction.

At a beach-side cafe in Monterrico, we were having a pleasant conversation with romantic Casio salsa playing in the background.
"Close your eyes and give me your finger," whispered Basia with a wink.

While similar but not exactly the same as what I had imagined, we commenced playing a game called, 'guess where your finger is in your fish dinner'.
"Um...in its gills?"
"Ah, now its in the eye socket."
"Ouch, yep, that's definitely his mouth."

An immediate consensus was reached that swimming was not to be had at the local beach.

The new plan was to get away from the conch smoothies and head down a dirty path to a turtle hatchery. So, we jumped into the local bus which was a post-apocalyptic soccer-mom caravan with both sliding doors missing.

We were too busy peeling salty human jerky strips off our over-gamma-radiated bodies to realize that we had missed our turn for the turtle hatchery miles back.

Ironically, while we were looking for the turtle hatchery, we had come to a dead end town that was in the heart of a thriving turtle egg industry.

A quick power lesson about the state of harvesting turtle eggs in Guatemala. At the time, buying and selling turtle eggs is not illegal in Guatemala so long as the egg harvester could prove that they had donated 12 eggs of their batch to the local turtle hatchery for conservation. But, if volunteers found a nocturnal turtle nest first, then the volunteers could donate the entire nest of 100+ eggs to the local hatchery.

While there was some innocent animosity towards foreign volunteers, our presence was endearingly embraced as we confessed that we were there to see a turtle.

As there was no real predictable pattern to the when the female turtle would come ashore at night to lay her eggs, we joined the handful of egg hunters who walked the beach all night hoping to spot a turtle laying her eggs.
"Any turtles?" we would inquire.
"No turtles."
All night, we'd have this same quick conversation. But, it was clear. Like prized secret fishing holes, no one was sharing turtle intelligence with us.

After a night on the beach with our failed turtle mating calls, we returned home where our host family was eagerly awaiting us.
"Did you find any eggs?" they giggled.
"Not tonight."
And then the family compassionately embraced us.

Here comes the second lesson in turtle harvesting. The demand for turtle eggs is created by a myth that the eggs are a powerful aphrodisiac.

The next morning, a fisherman I had never met before put a cracked, leathered hand on my shoulder, "Gustavo, you look tired. Did you not find any turtle eggs?"

Not only was it clear that our host family was not buying our little story about being conservation volunteers, but it seemed as if the whole town had started a secret prayer pyramid for my
problematic romantic plumbing.

"They think you have an arousal problem!" howled Basia.
"Look, my personal problem isn't funny...trust me...I wish I were less aroused too." I playfully retorted.

We walked back through the town and noticed how the whole town had started an informal parade to cheer on my junk. Families had set up plastic chairs along the dirt road to be sure not to miss the opportunity to wish luck upon the phallicly crippled gringo.
"Low moon tonight. This is a good sign. Good luck, Gustavo!"
"Gustavo! Gustavo! The crabs are quiet...yes, good conditions tonight, Gustavo."

After spending the day receiving support from half the town for my lackluster libido, we returned home for a pre-turtle hunting meal.
"Gustavo...I cooked a big meal for you two. Ionized air tonight, yes, good chance for turtles," announced our giggling host mom.

After dinner we joined the turtle hunters along the beach looking for turtle eggs.
"Any turtles?" we'd ask anonymous dark figures along the beach.
"No, Gustavo. No turtles."

We were all but losing hope to spot a turtle. But after secretly celebrating our own fertility, Basia spotted some turtle movement on the beach. Obviously, we had inspired this turtle to come lay her eggs in the sand.

I"ll have to say that watching a prehistoric cervix drop and discharge sloppy turtle eggs is maybe scientifically erotic.

Turtle Dropping Eggs from craig downing on Vimeo.

Okay, yes, true...because we had found the nest first, we could prevent all the eggs from being collected and sold. The problem was, that at the time, we didn't really know what to do with the eggs. We didn't know if it were safe to collect the eggs with our hands. We didn't know if we should mark the nest and have the hatchery staff come collect them. So, we concluded that for now we couldn't risk disturbing the nest. We would just sit close together and block anyone from seeing the nesting turtle directly behind us.

"Craig someone is coming!"
"Quick. Ah, let's make out so they get all awkward and don't come this way."
"Right and grope my boob...that'll make them stay away."
"Good one. I'll grunt some too."

This was obviously a perfect plan. The approaching egg hunters would totally quickly walk past us.
Grope, grope.
Grunt, grunt.

"Here they come!" I mumbled into Basia's mouth.
Grope, grope.
Grunt, grunt.

This was a great plan. They totally weren't going to notice the obvious turtle tracks leading directly to us.
"They are changing direction. They are coming right for us."
"More groping! More grunting!"

We were foolish to not realize that egg hunters are highly adapt at identifying turtle tracks in the sand. The dark figures walked right up to us.
"Hey, Gustavo. Did you see a turtle near by?"
As a last ditch effort, we doubled up on the groping.
"A turtle? Here? Nope. No turtle here," I shared between grunts.

It was futile. They turned on their flash lights to reveal the bizarre scene: Two turtlephiles caught in the spotlight, 8th-grade-boob-groping with a huge turtle directly behind them.
"Oh, right, you mean this turtle," I confessed with my tongue still in Basia's mouth.

For some reason, there was a slow long pause. Then another long pause. I kept repeating, please let us live.

The egg hunting couple then offered a lucrative price for the eggs. But, we made it clear that the eggs weren't for sale.

Another offer was given. Again, we repeated that the eggs weren't for sale.
"Ah...I understand, Gustavo. You need all those eggs just for yourself. Oh, yes, we understand."

I released Basia's breast to protest, but the couple had already slipped off into the darkness to share this new update with the rest of the town.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Leaving for Rehab

Muna and I were heading back to Antigua so we could proudly brag to our friends that we had recently survived a near fatal digestive disaster.

In Antigua, I celebrated my new found freedom from intestinal incontinence by going on a photo field trip with Basia.

Stop. Don't let this cute Polish girl trick you. She is an enabler. She took clear advantage of the fact that recently I hadn't consumed anything but methane in the past four days. She knew very well what she was doing when she paid for that first gateway dose of double dipped ice cream.

At first, our photo field trips were personally enriching. We were present, engaged and aware of the photo aesthetics of our surrounding.

But slowly the, oh so tasty (focus!), ice cream was taking over our photos, our choices and ultimately our lives.

It became less about being creative and more about avoiding reality while hiding behind the false security and cheap thrill of ice cream. Before we knew it, everything revolved around the ice cream. It controlled us. We couldn't do anything without including ice cream. What started as an innocent treat became way out of control and now had become an insatiable need.

We had to free ourselves from the triggers. We had to rediscover our connections with people and our real surroundings. We had absolutely no choice but to leave Antigua and head to the Guatemalan beach coast to break this destructive cycle.
"I'll be back for work on Monday, right?" confirmed Basia.
"Totally. Two days--tops." I over confidently assured.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mudslides and Maritime Disasters

I was at lake Atitlan, Guatemala to recuperate from my chicken bus cannonball run from the north. Sadly, the recovery was too late. Muna, our traveling OCD ambassador, broke her bouts of being bed ridden by dashing to our shared bathroom for digestive exercise. I had decided to celebrate dodging the diarrhea bullet with some pleasant tea in a local cafe.

"Yes, I'll take a refreshing mint tea, please," I proudly announced.
"Would you like--"
I didn't hear the rest of what the waiter said as, immediately in that very instant, everything changed.

I was experiencing the rapid onset of diarrhea-seizures of the bowels. A clammy wave of goosebumps rippled down my back. My pants felt humid. It was obvious that the barometric pressure in my manties was abruptly changing.
I interrupted the waiter, "Sorry. Better hold on that order. I'm not going to make it. I better leave before I soil my stool."

And with that I hopped down, leaving the confused waiter with a pretty decent pun as I made a mad rush for the the front door as a Guatemalan mudslide was rushing for my back door. I went left; my digestive system went right. For the love of God, pucker, Craig, pucker!

I was experiencing a high-velocity, category-5 digestive hurricane. Bolting down the street back to my hotel, I was caboose clenching so hard I was sure I was going to give myself scoliosis. Ah, rump cramp! I'd over done it.

To stall the digestive exorcism, I pressed my rump against a wall for some needed extra back pressure. I could see the hotel. Breath, Craig, breath. I gave myself a wedgie for insurance and just ran for it.

For some reason, I tried thinking about circular breathing. And, in that crisis moment I am pretty sure that I invented un-Lamaze. Craig--not here. Containment!

While almost bloating my pants, I burst through the hotel room door.
"Craig did you find any latex gloves or--"
"No time, Muna!"

I then made a mental note that my belt was not diarrhea friendly. I would patent the quickest-release, diarrhea-friendly belt. No, not here, not this close. I was fumbling with my belt like a starlet fumbles with door keys while being pursued by her killer. Come on! Come on! I was manically prancing and jumping to get my pants go down faster and then...

Porcelain. I had made it. My toes stretched then curled into knots, my lower lip unattractively quivered, and the backs of my knees released a never-experienced glandular sweat as I appreciated full excretal Nirvana.

"Impressive," mumbled bed-ridden Muna while trying to breath from inside her pillow case.
My rear fanny faucet wouldn't stop.
"What was that?" Muna hollered.
I responded over the high dB levels of BM flow, "I'm a little worried that if this doesn't stop, I'll die of dehydration."
"Can you at least shift your flow to the bathtub. My booty brakes just gave out too."

We spent the next three days tethered to our bathroom. Though, we found ways to keep ourselves entertained. For example, we timed the duration of our fecal leaks, dutch oven-ed the entire hotel, and we tried to get high off lethal levels of methane.

Our symptoms were ever changing. Sometimes we had the chills. Then we had moist fevers. Then there were times when our legs would have the chills but our arms would have a fever.

From our beds, we asked each other for updates.
"Anything solid?"
"Nope, still soup."

Watching the light change through the window, we counted the days. By day four, we were tired of being diarrhea prisoners. We were willing to risk a quick field trip. First we tried five steps in front of our hotel door.
"You good?"
"Yep. You?"
"Uh huh."
Then ten steps more.
"I'm feeling lucky."
"I'm good--wait...false alarm--just a methane fairy. I'm dry. Let's keep going."

Our ambitious goal was to make it to the dock for a quick jaunt to the other side of the lake. Our idea was that if we pretended we weren't dying from diarrhea, we would recover faster. It was a little thing I like to call mind over fecal matter.

We shuffled our way to the docks.
"My ballasts are empty. Let's do this."

We'd come so far that regardless of our hemorrhaging bowels, we were determined to get pictures of this panoramic paradise.

During our quick photo shoot, Muna found a convincing I-don't-have-diarrhea face and stuck with it.

I tried but couldn't stay focused.

"Muna, I'm sensing some seismic activity. We better get back to home base."

So, the diarrhea duo took the next boat back across the lake. Oh, heavens, you think yourself so very funny. I know, I know.
"Muna, why is the boat slowing down? Seriously."

And here, exhausted from sphincter stress, I kid you not, our boat runs out of gas. In the middle of the lake, we were equal-distant from any available bathroom.
"Muna this is bad." I stated the obvious.

Like good Guatemalans, everyone else on the boat was just going to patiently wait for the non-existent lake tide to take us to the shore as I was struggling to hold back a digestive tsunami. I had to take action.

I leaned over to the boat captain and quietly informed him that my friend there had an unholy case of diarrhea. I went on to share that Muna could easily produce a certain quantity not unlike the volume of this very boat to which we would all sink and die.
"En serio." I confirmed.

As everyone blatantly scooted away from her, Muna explained, in better Spanish than me, that I was lying and was suffering from delusional diarrhea. But everyone was too busy mad-dialing the diarrhea Make-A-Wish Foundation to get us some emergency boat fuel.

Three speed boats scrambled to our aid.

When we arrived at the dock, everyone insisted we both disembark first. We thanked everyone for their understanding. I then promptly took both of my hands and held my rear flanks pressed together as Muna and I shuffled back to our diarrhea dungeon.