Thursday, April 28, 2005

Squatty Potties and other Adventures on the Road to Armenia

Two weeks into our new life in Tbilisi, we pack our suitcases, put our traveling clothes on and hit the road again, this time for a two week trip to Armenia. Dave has work here, and rather than ditching Blaine and I in Tbilisi by ourselves in a half-furnished house with no car, he brought us along. We left Monday morning, Dave, Blaine and I, along with 2 of Dave's co-workers and a driver who would take us as far as the Georgian/Armenian border. After we crossed the border another driver would pick us up and take us the rest of the way to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

The ride to the border was an uneventful hour and a half ride. We spent about a half hour or so getting through the checkpoints and soon we were on the other side. After two hours in a car bumping around on Georgian roads (which, at their best, are not so great) I had to pee. Badly. Very, very badly. While we were transferring luggage and equipment from one vehicle to another, I asked one of Dave's coworkers (the one who had been to Armenia on several occasions) about the availability of bathrooms. He said "There is a bathroom here at the border - just over there through the white door". Yippie! My bladder and I were about to be relieved. Or so I thought.

Now, for those of you who have traveled outside of the U.S., you may have experienced the "Squatty Potty" (much thanks to Ron for teaching me this phrase). A squatty potty is basically a hole in the floor. A hole that you are supposed to pee into. A hole that EVERYONE who has ever peed there MISSES. So, basically, it is a hole in the ground surrounded by puddles of urine. This was the case with the "bathroom" at the border. Before I even made it within 50 feet of the white door, I could smell the horror that awaited me. Bravely, I thought to myself "how bad can it be?" and I went inside anyway. Folks, it was beyond foul. I have smelt barns that were better than this. It was truly horrifying.

I walked back to the car and the men just assumed I had finished what I needed to do. Tentatively I approached the Armenian driver and asked about bathrooms along the way. His only advice? That I should suck it up and go now because this was probably the best bathroom we would find until we reached the Marriott in Yerevan. And Yerevan was about 4 hours away. So, I got Dave, had him stand guard (I didn't mention that the white door did not shut all the way nor did it have anything resembling a lock, did I?) and I used my first, and hopefully last, squatty potty. Dave used the bathroom after I did - men are so squatting involved, praying that you don't fall on your unbalanced ass in a pile of other people's urine - and Dave's only comment on the whole squatty potty was "I wish I would have brought the camera with me - that is truly foul in ways only a picture can describe".

The bathrooms at the Marriott are much nicer.


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