Travel like a Diva … with a cup … Part 3

This truly is part 3 of a series, so if you haven’t read part 1 and part 2, hunker down in a private place where you can laugh out loud and you don’t have to explain yourself! I’m suggesting that your office cubicle is not sufficient for this! Trust me …. I’m telling you!

Oh yes, and men, well, you should just skip to another post now. This one talks about having your period while traveling. I’m guessing you aren’t interested …

Here we go! Part 3 …

I was both lucky and unlucky enough to have my period the week before I left on my South American Adventure. I was lucky of course because I wasn’t having my period while flying and during my first week of travels. I was UNLUCKY because this moved my schedule so that I would be having my period … dun da da dahhhhhhh … during my homestay in Ccaccaccollo! Not impressed!

On my first day at our homestay, we went back to our houses with our mommies and got dressed up in traditional attire before heading out for a walk around the community. Traditional attire means large colorful skirts, a white blouse, a short black jacket and a hat. All of which we put on over our regular clothes.

When my mommy put my skirt on me and went to tie it up, she put her hand on my belly and asked ‘Bambino?’. I wanted to cry (but I didn’t). I told her ‘No, Bambino.’

Hmmmm … really? Did I look pregnant? Maybe not a good day to ask me that seeing as my period should be arriving at any time!

I was kind of offended, but I tried to keep in mind that in their culture, being pregnant is a huge blessing and it wasn’t meant to be offensive at all. Unfortunately this only changed the pain from a sting to a dull ache.

After our walk around town we removed the layers of traditional clothing and got back to wearing our stretch pants, sweaters and my trusty rain jacket.

One of the things I loved most about my rain jacket was the endless pockets. They weren’t necessarily placed in the best positions for easy access, but wow, could you ever fit a lot in them!

At ALL times, my jacket pockets were stuffed with at least two travel packs of kleenex (or toilet paper), hand sanitizer, often a snack, a bottle of water, some odds and ends of camera gear and my hat and mittens when it got too hot.

This first night in Ccaccaccollo I added to the pocket stuffing list:
two tampons, a pad and my diva cup

Yup, everywhere I went for the next few days my diva cup was with me.

Now, although I was ‘packing’ my diva cup, I really had no idea how I was going to be able to use it. Have you read “It’s a squatter Part 2”?

I really thought that the diva cup was going to be my best friend while I was having my period during this trip in Peru.

My first trip to the outhouse that day was in the dark, flashlight in hand. I didn’t talk about this in my ‘squatter’ blog, but when I went to the bathroom, I was also checking to see if I had started my period. Yup, that means shining the flashlight on my undies and checking the toilet paper. Nothing there. The waiting game continues.

Isn’t it awful that there isn’t a clear sign to tell us to run to the bathroom and put a cork in it before it is too late? You know, before we ruin a pair of underwear or have an embarrassing situation at work, before you decide to have sex with someone and ‘surprise’… there it is! What? No, none of those things have ever happened to me or any of my girl friends!

I mean really, since our bodies are created with all of these intricacies, couldn’t one have been implemented to set an internal alarm off saying ‘Period commencing in 3 … 2 … 1 …’

Men, are you still reading? It really only gets worse from here ….

So, no period on my first night at Ccaccaccollo, but it is due to arrive at any time!

Day 2 at the homestay, I head to the bathroom with all of my personal products to check for my Aunt Flow. Am I hoping she’s come to visit? Well, kind of … just to have it over with. The sooner she arrives, the sooner she leaves, right? No luck. Still no period.

By the afternoon, I’m starting to worry a little and my mind is wandering …

hmmm … Mami in an ancient village asks me if I’m carrying a child …
hmmm … haven’t had any of my regular PMS symptoms and I’m officially late.
I’m Late.
OMG I’m LATE!
Holy crap I’m LATE!
OMG could I be pregnant?
OMG is this woman telling me something instead of asking me something?
Holy crap, could I be pregnant?

SHARI! Earth to Shari!
BREATHE!

Ok. I really can’t be pregnant. Being pregnant requires the act of having sex. Phew! What a relief that is! (ha ha ha I just cracked myself up)

PANIC …. Wait, when did I have sex last?
Think …. think ….
Ok, PHEW! It was before my last period, before I left Canada. (yes, I just published this … WEIRD!)
Phew! I really can’t be pregnant, I must just be late.
It must be the food, the exercise, the change in schedule.
Did I say PHEW! yet?

After this 30 seconds of panic, my heart rate returned to normal and I realized that I could not possibly be pregnant, so I’d just have to wait for it.

Then the conversation in my head continued in a different direction …

So, ‘self’ … how is it that you are going to actually deal with this when it does arrive. Let’s make a plan so we aren’t totally caught off guard.

(do you like how there are two of us in this conversation? Me … and my other self, Me.)

Picture an outhouse … the basic kind, not the porta-potty kind … Tin roof and sides, cement floor, hole in ground. Now, picture yourself squatting over that hole to do your bathroom business. Fine, that’s not so bad .. just like going in the woods, right?

Outhouse in Ccaccaccollo, Peru
Outhouse in Ccaccaccollo, Peru
Outhouse in Ccaccaccollo, Peru
Outhouse in Ccaccaccollo, Peru

Now, picture yourself squatting over the hole trying to get the diva cup out of your jacket pocket and out of it’s pretty little cotton bag. Ok, a bit of a struggle, but doable. But you can’t set anything down. Tuck the pretty little cotton bag back into your jacket pocket and prepare for the challenge. Don’t forget, you are still in full squat-to-the-ground position with your pants around your ankles and a rain jacket on. Not to mention the fact that you are squatting over an open hole with no seat to catch you if you lose your balance! (EWWWW!) Not that you could actually fall in, the hole isn’t that big, but still … EWWWW!

Diva cup in hand, you push the centre of it in and get ready. Now you have to use both hands to actually insert it.

Ok. Here’s where I lose it. Squatting over an open hole … trying not to breathe in too many fumes … holding a little cup in my hand, trying to balance and not fall over while pants are at my ankles. Then needing to use both of my hands to insert the cup?

I can’t do it!

All of this conversation in my head to plan for the moment my period arrives and I’m in the outhouse and I’ve already decided I can’t do it!

Flashback to Part 2:

“POP!

The cup slips out of my grasp, hits the door with a dull little thud and bounces to the floor. “OMG I’m glad I’m at home, not in a public bathroom right now!” What if I had lost my grip, the cup hit the door, then the floor and rolled right out of the stall? I might just die!

Instead of the Seinfeld episode ‘Can you spare a square?’ it would be ‘Can you roll my alternative menstrual product back under the stall for me please? And then, can you leave the bathroom before I do, so you never see my face?’”

Yup, the flashback pretty much ruined it for me. What if I lost my grip on the Diva cup and it popped right out of my hand? What if it landed on the floor in the outhouse? Worse, what if it fell in the hole? Not only is there no retrieving it, but one of the men who cleans out the outhouse would eventually find it and probably wonder what it was!

Not only are both of these thoughts disgusting, but unfortunately, both are realities of things that could happen. That little cup is springy and you have to have a good grip on it to make sure you don’t lose it.

So, on day 2, it has been decided that if my period arrives while I’m at my homestay, I will be using pads and tampons.

Day 3 we head out to the carnival celebrations in the community of Toray. I’m still carrying feminine products, including my diva cup everywhere I go! Maybe this community will have washrooms with toilets!

The community did indeed have public washrooms with toilets. However, I think I preferred my hole in the ground in the outhouse. Seems crazy, I know, but the public washrooms are not well taken care of. In fact, they aren’t taken care of at all. You fend for yourself.

You would never ever ever dream of sitting on the toilet … there’s no seat on it, but it doesn’t really matter. Seat or no seat, everyone else has already squatted, done their business and can’t be bothered to wipe off the seat. Not a chance in hell that I would ever let any part of me touch that toilet!

And for those of you who have fears of sitting on public toilets in Canada and the US. For those of you who avoid public washrooms all together … Well, simply, you should just never, ever leave those two countries or you will not survive. We are pampered. Our bathrooms are luxurious. If there is a toilet seat you can sit on, you are a Queen!

If you think that washrooms in Canada at a gas station in the middle of nowhere is bad, think again. Public washrooms in developing countries don’t even come close to the cleanliness of a bad washroom in Canada.

So, despite the fact that there were actually toilets in this community, not a chance that if my period had started I was going to try to squat and insert the diva cup over the disgustingness of the public toilets.

By the end of day 3 at our homestays, I was nearly 5 days late. No PMS symptoms, no period and a lovely woman who had asked (more than once now) if I was carrying a ‘Bambino’.

Hmmmm … really … is she trying to tell me something? Is immaculate conception in the Andes Mountains a normal occurrence? Is she predicting my future?

Nah … she just thinks my ‘fat’ is a baby. It sucks, but that’s all it is. More than a little discouraging, especially after already having lost weight on the trip, but what can you do!

We leave the lovely Ccaccaccollo community the next morning, off on our next adventure which is heading to Machu Picchu! Still no period.

Advance a few days … still no period.

Lima, Feb 28 – We have a great final night out with our G Adventures leader, Andres. We head out to a local bar (blog post on all of this coming soon), but I’m not feeling my best. I had come down with traveller’s diarrhea in Aguas Calientes and despite having started on Cipro, it wasn’t in check yet. The local bar was pretty sketchy though and decided to avoid the bathrooms if at all possible.

At around 11pm we got cabs and headed back to the hotel.

11:30pm back in my hotel room … SURPRISE! My period had started.
Someone was watching over me and allowed me to make it all the way back to my hotel room that night without any embarrassing accidents in my khaki colored shorts. Here I was, the last day of my trip, more than fives days late and my period was starting when I could actually sit on a toilet, use both hands and insert my diva cup properly.

For awhile there, I thought that the diva cup was a lost cause … in the end, I enjoyed having it just as much as I thought I would, but only when there are good washrooms!

Best part about it was that somehow my period magically avoided my entire trip except for the last day. And, I got to use the Diva cup while traveling home which is really wonderful when you have to use airplane bathrooms.

This is a whole other story, but trying to spread your knees and insert a tampon while in an airplane bathroom is nearly impossible … right ladies??? I know you feel my pain!

Use a diva cup – you can keep it in for 12 hours. No need to reinsert on the plane.

I {heart} my diva cup!

3 thoughts on “Travel like a Diva … with a cup … Part 3

  1. The one thing that confused me was that you could have used the Diva Cup during that time when you are expecting it to happen, and don’t have to worry at all about spotting or surprises. Just remove it to clean every 12 hours, and you can keep going for as long as you need – no paper products required. 🙂 Just a thought.

    1. Great thought and I’m sure some people do this in anticipation and to stop embarrassing situations/leakage etc … but that would have meant still dealing with the fact that I was using a ‘squatter’ which was kind of the point of not wanting to use it to begin with. 🙂

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