There’s a rat in mi toilet

Alanya, Turkey, quite a few years ago.

The night is warm, the beer is cheap, the atmosphere in the open air drinkin’ spot is jovial.

What’s not to like, laughing with good friends near the end of a wind-down, interesting, eventful holiday I’d expected nothing of at the beginning? And Turkey is a beautiful and fascinating country that’s packed full of history.

Now beer has a habit of running through me within a very short time but I’m actually not that fond of the stuff and neither’s Cassie, so us girls sip away on a couple and let the guys do all the serious drinking and running to the toilets. Before we leave to walk back to the hotel though, I’m ready for a visit to the Little Girls’ Room.

“Me too,” says Cassie and the guys glance at each other with that why-do-women-always-have-to-go-to-the-toilet-in-pairs? air about them.

We seek out the loos near the back of the beer garden. This is with some degree of trepidation I admit, because you never know what state they’re going to be in and having been lucky enough to travel quite a bit I’ve had some less than perfect experiences in Toilets I Have Known. The one at the pit-stop near King’s Canyon in Australia is a prime example. I won’t go into that in detail, but suffice to say I got within two metres of the entrance, saw and smelt the interior, and decided I could hold on.

This one is basic, but okay. They’ve even stocked it with paper, albeit of a rough variety. We take a cubicle each and get on with the business.

I turn around to flush and a movement catches my eye. There, in the corner, right behind where I’ve been sitting, is a large, fat and healthy looking rat. We fix on each other for a few seconds. He (she?) isn’t scared of me and I’m a live-and-let-live kind of person. I slowly press the flush button and the rat blinks as if to say, “Yeah, this one makes that weird running water sound as well,” and flickers its whiskers. Maybe my body language is reassuring it I’m simply going to move on out. I open the door while still facing it and leave quietly.

Cassie’s already finished and is washing her hands. She smiles at me.

“There’s a huge rat in there,” I tell her, jabbing my thumb over my shoulder at the cubicle and then I reach out for the soap dispenser.

For a second I think she’s misheard me and somehow got ‘dragon’ out of ‘rat’. Later, when Mike described the moment he heard the scream that brought all conversations in the establishment to a halt and turned every head, he admitted, “I knew that was my wife.”

There were certainly some confused moments while he and Eddie tried to make Cassie sit down, holding her wet hands, several other men left their tables, beckoned to waiters and formed a mini army to storm the place Cassie had just vacated and most likely some beer was spilt. The mini army was up for it but not quite sure what ‘it’ was and it fell to me, still standing outside the ladies’ toilet door, to reluctantly rat on the rat.

I still feel guilty. I have no idea if it got captured and I don’t want to know what happened to it if it did. I know they’re classed as vermin and I know they spread disease but that night me and The Rat In The Toilet did share a bizarre, fleeting bond.

A traveller, reader and writer from first Africa, then Europe and now South East Asia. A life of wide open spaces, animals and civil engineering.