In my pocket-sized Spanish phrase-book, there’s a list of important phrases that you might need should you find yourself in an emergency in Latin America. Useful phrases like “Se me extraviaron los checks de viajero ” (“I’ve lost my traveler’s checks.” – Who carries traveler’s checks anymore?) and “Me ahogo” (“I’m drowning”. – Um, wouldn’t that be sorta obvious?).
Unfortunately, the writers of the Eyewitness Travel Guide forgot to include useful phrases for one of the most common Latin American emergencies of all: What to Say to the Bus Driver When You’re on a Six-Hour Bus Ride from Antigua to Xela, Guatemala and You Have to Pee and There isn’t a Bathroom On Board.
It would have been helpful if the writers had thought to include the phrase: “Please pull the bus over so that I can use the restroom or else I might pee my pants” or maybe they could have explained how to say “Can we please have a quick restroom break at the next road-side chicken shack? Thanks.”
But no. The closest thing the Spanish phrasebook has to offer for that particular emergencia is the ueber unhelpful: “Donde estan los Baños?” (“Where are the restrooms?”). But there’s no point in asking the bus driver that. He’ll surely just tell you that it’s in Xela and that “we’re almost there”, which is what he says when you ask him both one hour and 43 minutes and five hours and 19 minutes into your journey.
You consider simply getting off the bus the next time the driver briefly pauses in his lunatic driving to go over a speed bump or pick up the random family running down the side of the road. But although that would solve your toilet emergencia, it would leave you with an altogether new and possibly worse emergencia. One that could involve the phrases “Me asaltaron” (“I’ve been mugged”) or “Me violaron” (“I’ve been raped”). Because you are in the middle of no where, on a deserted mounain road with nothing but a cliff on either side.
So you wait anxiously, watching the rain slide down the window pane and trying hard not to think about your bladder exploding. Because then what would you say if that happened? There probably wouldn’t be a need for much of an explanation. People would see the puddle or note your soaked jeans as you did the Walk of Shame to the front of the bus and guess what had happened.
Although ironically enough, that’s when my Spanish book would finally come in handy. Because it actually has the perfect phrase should you find yourself in the “I Peed on the Bus and Need to Inform the Bus Driver But Don’t Know What to Say” situation. You could simply (and humbly) whisper the phrase:
“Los sientos. Yo he tenido un accidente.” (“I’m sorry, I’ve had an accident”).