Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)
TITLE: The Real Tour de France
By Dee Yoder
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Is it the walking that did me in? No it is not the walking. The food: rich, butter-laden dishes with crème-filled sauces? The haughty attitude? No and no. It is the bathrooms or rather, the lack of them.
Our tour group had been on the road from Germany only a couple of hours before the first potty break came. I eagerly lined up with the rest of the women at the front of the tour bus, when a young boy came bouncing back on the bus chattering excitedly about the “little hole in the floor of the bathroom that all the stuff comes out of when you press the little button.”
OK. I promptly sat back down and thought, Well, I can wait a couple more hours.
The ride to France loomed longer than I’d anticipated, but I distracted myself by watching the scenery flash past. By the time we got to the border, I was having a difficult time even caring that my passport was going to be stamped with the official seal of France. “Let’s just get this over with and roll on to Paris,” I muttered under my breath. The elderly lady seated beside me glared as she handed her passport to the driver.
Finally, the City of Lights came into view. How exciting! Our hotel was now minutes away, and I was happily planning my path to the front. The driver parked the bus and stood up. I stood up, too, but his frown showed me I was out of order, so I perched on the edge of my seat with a sigh. He explained that he was going to see if the rooms were prepared. If not, we would be taking our tour of Paris first. My heart sank as my bladder protested. “Oh noooooo,” I moaned softly. “Please, let the rooms be clean.”
After several minutes, he loped out with a huge grin on his face. Ahh, I thought, we’re going to go in! Wrong. We had to come back in four hours. FOUR HOURS?! How in the world would I ever make it that long?
Not to worry…the good driver was taking us to the Champs Elysees for lunch. Whoop-de-do! There were bound to be restrooms along that famous avenue. Whew!
Do you know how many potholes there are on the old streets of Paris? I’m happy we only had to bounce in and out of about fifty of them before we finally reached our destination. The goal was in sight…I just had to maintain control a few minutes more. As my turn to leave the bus came, I looked ahead and saw that the line to the women’s bathroom was already snaking out the door. Rats!
I inched my way closer and closer to that golden portal. When I only had three ladies in front of me, the bus driver’s assistant began blowing her whistle and yelling in French-inspired English that we all had to return to “le autobus’ imed-jiately. Pliss!”. Turns out the restaurant was full; we had to find another cafeteria. I really thought I would pass out right then and there.
The stream of tourists turned me around with them and carried me, kicking and screaming, back to the wretched bus. By this time, I didn’t care where we were…Paris Smare-ish…just get me to a toidy!
Our driver decided to give us the long tour, and I saw so many fountains that I ached each time we passed one. Oh, the agony!
Finally, the crème de la crème: the Louvre Museum. But alas! I could not stop to see Ms. Mona nor any other famous work of art. I had to find a bathroom, and quickly!
At last…the universal code: Le Damen etched on a door! I dug out a few coins and threw them at the restroom attendant as I sprinted the last few feet to the goal line. Voila’! I’d made the grade...kept my focus...and emerged victorious!
Yes, Paris is a great city, but only the strong can conquer her potty-poor streets, and I was proud to be one of the few who had accomplished the task. Viva’ la France!
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