Welcome to part two of our Awkward Camino Moments series. Our ability to find ourselves in scenarios we would prefer to avoid never ceases to amaze us. The embarassment continues as Patrick shares how we navigated life on the Camino with a wheelchair, when answering nature’s call.
One of the challenges of traveling the Camino with a wheelchair is using restrooms… or the lack thereof. Hotels were rarely accessible and finding a place on the trail for Justin to take care of business was problematic. Anytime nature called for me, I could trot off the trail into the bushes and have a quick pee break. Justin’s situation required a little more planning. We had brought a collapsible urinal so we always had a place for Justin to go, but privacy was rare. Since privacy was preferred, we would go off trail whenever we had the opportunity, but this option rarely presented itself. Frequently, we had to wait till we had plenty of coverage from trees, hills, or the shelter of an alley.
On one particularly long day in the flat open plains of the Meseta, we both desperately needed to get rid of multiple café con lechés and copious amounts of water. It had been hours since we had seen a tree remotely close enough to the trail to provide shelter/privacy and the number of fellow pilgrims meant stopping on the side of the trail would have resulted in a lot of passers by watching us pee. As we neared the edge of a small town, Justin had go so badly he was getting twitchy, so we diverted off the trail on the edge of town and found a quiet sheltered place behind a tall stone wall.
I unzipped Justin’s pants and got him situated. With urinal in hand, I was helping Justin take care of business, but as the sound of liquid flowing into the urinal hit my ears, the power of suggestion was incredible. I was suddenly in the middle of a contest between the volume of urine that had accrued in my bladder over the past several hours and my ability to keep from wetting my pants. Immediately I started doing the three year old’s “MOM!! I HAVE TO PEE SO BAD!!!” dance while trying to help Justin. We both started laughing as I had both my knees pinched together in an effort to not wet myself.
With one hand holding Justin and the other holding the urinal, it was all I could do to keep my ridiculous gyrations from causing the nearly full urinal to spill. Laughing hysterically, while doing the potty dance, with both hands full (one of them holding almost a liter of urine) felt like an impossible task.
Once Justin finished up, I dumped the contents of the urinal in the dirt at the base of the tall wall, scrambled to unzip my pants, and embraced relief. With business finally taken care of we headed around the wall to go into town. As we rounded the corner, a steeple at the top of the wall came into view. Why hadn't we noticed that before?
“Wait... um... was that a church?” Justin questioned.
“Uh… yeah.” was all I could reply.
We had literally peed on a church.