[Warning: Nothing but poop-talk here.]
As a reasonably well-seasoned traveler, I think my sensitivity to shit has diminished exponentially. They don’t tell you that in the guidebooks, but it comes with the territory. Having to use questionable toilets (if you’ve got the luxury of calling it a toilet, so much the better), with or without anything for post-action cleanup, open bins for paper disposal, and other such experiences have helped build me into the iron-clad stomached woman I am today.
In Japan, there was Shair (shit + air = Shair). A lovely breeze while walking through the streets of Osaka would occasionally slap you into reality with a dose of rank, thick Shair. This was almost palpable on the tongue, and it would immediately strip away the joy from the moment.
Then I went to South Korea, where toilet paper wasn’t meant to be disposed of in the toilet. The horrors that I witnessed in those ladies’ restrooms… It was astounding sometimes, to see such put-together-looking women entering the bathroom, and leaving such carnage in their wake. Open wastebins seemed to be a general suggestion: “Aim somewhere in this vicinity.” Not everyone was an accurate shot, nor were they particularly worried about concealing the nature of their excretions. Not to mention the wretched Shair that I caught in the mouth on a bus ride to Siheung one day…
Now, I’m in France: land of baguettes, cheese, stripey shirts and not picking up after your shitty dog. People on a stroll with their dogs in the countryside, in small towns, in the city: no matter where, you’ll be sure to find a steaming pile of go-fuck-yourself left by some lazy dog owner. And depending on when it was deposited, you’ll be dismayed to find that several unsuspecting pedestrians, bike-riders, or even other dogs have stepped in it. And then, realizing their mistake, apparently decided to smear it all over the sidewalk. You could piece together the entire history of an ill-placed dog turd by analyzing the surrounding area. In front of restaurants, in busy pedestrian areas, on stairs: you’re never safe from danger.
Perhaps the best-placed turd I ever witnessed was in a busy pedestrian walkway in the center of Angers. On a corner in front of a store was a gold-painted living statue, who apparently wanted to make a few bucks on a nice, sunny day. He was positioned near a huge, already well-trodded dogpile, in the perfect spot where anyone that caught a glimpse of the living statue while walking past were taken off-guard and distracted by him, thus placed in a direct path to make contact with the turd. It was so perfect that I had to ask myself whether he didn’t pick that spot on purpose. I imagined how great it would be if instead of changing poses when he received a coin, he’d change everytime someone stepped in that monstrous shit. And so this scene made my day.
Unfortunately, this arguably charming type of poop story comes up far too infrequently. I’m just glad my stomach is strong enough to see the humor before the disgust sets in.