Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holding it at Pompeii

When I visited Rome to research Sacred Fire I was eager to visit Pompeii, but I had no idea it would be as amazing as it was. Andrew and I petered around looking at temples and senate houses, thinking the center of town was the only thing we would see. Then we walked up a hill and saw Pompeii is an entire city. Houses stretched as far as we could see.

I turned to my husband, wide-eyed. “We’re going to be here a very long time.”

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The streets are preserved, as well as the surrounding houses, the bases of fountains in crossroads, and murals. Shrines were still there, as were pools and gardens and vineyards. I felt like I went back in time.

Oddly, one of the most preserved places was a whore-house. The walls are pasted with the most graphic porn imaginable (though I admit, I don’t have the greatest imagination in that department).

A couple was looking through the tiny rooms with nothing but a bed in them. They had confused looks on their faces. “What do you think this place is for?” asked the husband.

Since the house was right behind a theater, the wife said, “Maybe these were dressing rooms.”

I laughed out loud. “These were no dressing rooms,” I said, pointing to a particularly vulgar painting.

They peered at the painting, then pulled their heads back. “Oh,” said the wife.

We spent seven hours in that city. At some point, both my husband and I had to go to the bathroom. We knew there were restrooms at the entrance, but it was on the other side of town.

“Surely they’ll have a portapotti around here somewhere,” I reasoned. “They wouldn’t leave us stranded here with no way to go to the bathroom.”

I forgot we were in Italy, which has no public bathrooms to speak of. Italians must have bladders of steel.

Hours went by and we still couldn’t find a portapotti. Our need to go got worse and worse. Eventually we could hardly stand it anymore and knew we’d have to make a break for it and get to the entrance, but the site was going close soon. We didn’t have time to come back.

“There’s more I want to see!” I told my husband

I could tell the wheels in his head were working. “What are you thinking?” I asked.

“Well, there are a lot of houses here, and there are a lot of empty rooms.”

I gave him a blank stare. “I’m not going to pee in Pompeii.”

“We don’t have much of a choice,” he pointed out.

He was right. I had to go so badly, I was practically dancing. Plus there were wild dogs all over the town, and surely they peed in the rooms too.

We found a small, inconspicuous house and took turns standing guard. As I was crouched down taking care of business, I wondered who used to live in the house. He probably never would have guessed a few thousand years later, a tourist would come and pee in it.

Now whenever I think of Pompeii, I remember that a little part of me is still there.

6 comments:

  1. Just wait until the author-chasing tabloids get wind of this! "Pilgrim Peed in Pompei," the headlines will read!

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  2. Pompeii is truly amazing. I just wish they'd build a museum closer to the site to exhibit most of the treasures carted off to the Naples Museum. Naples is a disappointing city and I've never been there when garbage wasn't piled in the streets up to my chin. But a bit of inconvenience is a worthwhile trade to glimpse into a fabulous lost world.

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  3. This post made me laugh! I traveled Italy last year and Pompeii was a place I never got to and have regretted it since being back.

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  4. I've been to Ephesus in Turkey, but never Pompeii. I've been to Rome but didn't have the time to explore all the places I wanted to. MUST go here sometime!

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  5. I loved visiting Pompeii! Just fantastic!
    @Trisha, I've been to Ephesus as well, and wow, that library! And all those cats!

    I could wander around ancient ruins happily for the rest of my life.

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  6. I found Pompei overpowering in the best sense possible. Like you we lost ourselves in the streets, immersed in the head and complete silence. Nearest thing to time travel there is. Our beef wasn't toilets. Didn't need toilets in that heat. We sweated it out leaving little puddles if we stood in one place long enough. Our Godsend were the numerous water pipes. I've loved water ever since :)

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