Fitness fanatics! Take heed of my words!
Do away with your stomach crunches, your sit ups, your planks!
If you really want to work your lower abdomen then I recommend sitting on an overnight bus from Dahab to Cairo with a case of the shits.
My god. You will never clench like it again.
The shifting-in-seat, the utter churning fear that you might let slip a little ‘parp’ that could splatter everywhere - including over the neighbourly young French guy you’d been pleasantly conversing with in an odd mixture of Arabic, French and English.
I’d managed not to shit myself as we pulled into Cairo - just - but I was off that bus, grabbing for my suitcase, running for the nearest door to the main building as fast as my limpy legs would carry me.
‘Feyn il-twalet?! Minfadlak?’
‘No inglizi.’ I was in too much of a desperate clench-and-trot to point out that I’d spoken in some vague (albeit poorly-pronounced) form of Arabic, not English.
‘Feyn… il- aahhhh- twalet? Please?! Toilet??’
I was directed ‘that way’.
God bless that ancient and noble art of point and nod.
I found the toilet. Correction, I found the toilets. Shit, which one was the Ladies’?! Of all the damn Arabic phrases to learn by sight that was probably one of the more vital.
There was a bloke washing his feet in a sink visible from the entrance to one of the two rooms.
His presence, of course, shouldn’t be taken with any real sense of authority on the matter, but I knew this was going to be a venture which required some privacy.
My stomach churned, and throwing caution to the wind, I dashed into the adjacent set of toilets and looked for the nearest open door.
To my utter horror, I saw no toilet. Or, no Western toilet.
Rather, a dirty pit into which I was about unload the sloppy contents of my bowels.
This, I thought, required me to leave my dignity at the door, and take the alcohol gel in hand.
I rammed my suitcase against the door in place of a lock.
Imagine if you will - but you needn’t - a 20-something girl, squatting over a large pit that was once white, but now was covered in a thick layer of…various substances. Only she’s not squatting, so much as bent down hitching her trousers away from the floor, clutching at the walls for support.
Someone walked in, shuffling around, as the most hideous noise escaped my person. I will not pretend it was oral.
Finally, it was over.
Sweating, I left the toilet. For now, it was over and I started to calculate its rough half life as I was rubbing alcohol gel into my hands looking for the taxi rank.
I got into the first taxi that had the squashiest, most comfy looking seats.
‘Al’an faan da… funduk Bella Luna?’ And to my great surprise he understood me, driving off to my hotel with the chaotic speed of any good Cairene driver.