(Warning: Detailed Grossness Ahead)
About one hour into our bus ride from Cuzco to Puno, I really needed to use the bathroom. I knew the conditions were not going to be that great - we were on a bus, after all, and if their choice of movie entertainment was any indication of taste, the bathroom was not going to be pretty. I waited until it looked like there was a long, straight road ahead, then crawled awkwardly over the dozing Jason and made my way down the double decker's narrow stairs to the first level.
The bathroom was right there, but the "Occupado" sign was illuminated. No problem, I thought, I'll just wait.
I braced myself between the wall handles, the stairs, and the exit door and waited.
And waited, and waited, and waited.
We started up a canyon at some point and the road became more twisty. Thankfully, I could see over the driver's companion's head and through the front window from my waiting spot, so I kept an eye on the road and tried to quell the motion sickness.
After 10 minutes, I started knocking on the door. No answer.
I tried the handle. It was definitely locked.
I was just trying to scrape together a semi-Spanish request to the driver ("Disculpa? Bano? Yo rest aqui vente minutes? Bano occupado mais no personne respondez y yo desperado. Por favor?") when the door to the first-level passengers opened. I was thrilled to see a blond backpacker girl poke her head through and even more thrilled when she said in English, "Oh, is it occupied?"
I had a comrade in arms! "I don't know," I said desperately, "but I've been waiting for 20 minutes."
"Oh, my!" she said. She also tried knocking and when there was no answer asked, "Have you asked the driver for help?"
"Not yet," I said. "I was just about to."
She pulled the curtain aside and rattled off something to the driver in fluent Spanish. His companion responded, then crawled through the tunnel with a key and unlocked the bathroom door to reveal an empty room.
"Oh, gracias, gracias!" I said to the man and the backpacker.
"Good thing we asked!" she said.
"Good thing you know Spanish!" I said.
I ducked inside the bathroom. The process took a bit longer than usual since 1) I was acutely aware of the girl waiting outside and wanted to hurry for her sake but that just makes it harder to relax and 2) the bus was now fully lurching side to side down a canyon road and I had to brace my feet and hold onto the handles that were attached to every wall and try to do what I needed to without actually touching anything because Ew. Ew. Ew.
30 minutes after I had started the journey to the bathroom, I emerged grossed-out but victorious and made my way back up the stairs.
An hour later I was very, very glad that I had made sure the bathroom was accessible. Since then I had grown more and more nauseous. I had my VomitWatch cranked up as high as it could go, I took some Dramamine, I took deep breaths and tried to watch the road through the foggy, damp window, but I just got more and more sick to my stomach.
Finally, things came to a head and I desperately flung myself over Jason, raced down the stairs, wrenched open the bathroom door, and barely had time to wedge my knees against the walls for the curves and pull the door shut behind me before I threw up what little I had in my stomach.
I rinsed out my mouth as best I could with the water bottle I was clutching, went back upstairs, and dropped into the seat next to Jason.
"Ca va?" he asked.
"No," I replied, unable to muster up the poise to pretend I was fine.
Now, while I do get motion sick very easily, it's extremely rare for it to be as bad as that. So as I tried to go to sleep to avoid getting sicker, I thought about what I could blame this on.
Granted, I did break one of my (now cardinal) rules of avoiding motion sickness - I was traveling on an empty stomach. Knowing how that makes me more vulnerable, I had eaten a granola bar before we pulled out of the terminal in Cuzco. It was not enough and I knew it, but we didn't have time to get a proper breakfast and the rolls we had bought the night before just looked and smelled disgusting in the early morning bus terminal.
No, there had to be another culprit. Sadly, I couldn't blame the cuy anymore, since it had been two days. But then I remembered what we had both ordered on a whim the night before.
We had dinner at a place with a prix fix menu. The dinner was actually very good - taquinos and guacamole for a starter, and I had some delicious and filling spaghetti bolognese for the main course. The waitress had rattled off a list of beverage options and since pisco was out we decided to be adventurous. We picked a drink that, as best Jason could translate, was a) made from corn, b) not made with alcohol, and c) delicious, at least according to the waitress.
Yes, I thought as I clutched my stomach and looked out at the rainy mountain road. It had to be the drink. We both had it, and, as Jason explained in his entry, he was having similar issues that morning. Grimly I recalled the sight of the drink when it first arrived at our table:
Behold the Frothy Pink Drink of DOOM!
Oh, don't be deceived by the pinkalicious-like appearances. It tasted like Pixie Stix and ground-up Pez, and, in retrospect, they probably used tap water to mix it. And as we all know, tap water = DOOM!
Yes. It wasn't my genetic motion-sickness or my lack of morning preparation. Like Gertrude, the drink, the drink's to blame; and I spent the remainder of the bus ride eating a Ritz cracker very slowly and shaking my mental fist at the Frothy Pink Drink.