Help! I'm trapped in the outhouse!

October 03, 2008|By MARY ANN GRANDINETT, 54, Fairplay

There are vacation horror stories, and then there's my story. It doesn't involve lost luggage, missed flights or cultural missteps - well, maybe a little of that last one.

In January 1974, I was a sophomore at St. Mary's College of Maryland and a group of friends and acquaintances planned to spend winter break in Jamaica doing research for a biology project. My roommate (and lifelong friend) Maria and I thought it sounded like an adventure, so we made arrangements to meet our friends in Montego Bay in Jamaica. We packed up my little red Fiat and headed south to Miami for the flight over.

Flying has never been my favorite way to travel, but the free rum punch and party atmosphere on the plane helped calm my nerves.

Our friends met us at the airport and we took a taxi to Negril, then turned inland.

Arrangements had been made for us to stay with a local woman for $2 a night (yes, that's right). That bargain rate didn't include the luxury of running water or electricity, so no plumbing.


By the second day our bladders could hold no more, so together, Maria and I visited the two-seater outhouse around back. There were some really huge spiders in it that we didn't want to encounter alone.

We had no sooner stepped inside when, yes, the floor gave way and we went down. Maria pushed the door open and grabbed the wooden frame but being rotten it gave way and exposed so many disgusting creatures.

We screamed like you can't imagine and eventually one of our friends looked out the door of the house, probably thinking we had seen a bug, only to see our heads in the doorway. People came running and we were fished out and doused with buckets of water. Fortunate for us it was only five feet deep and three feet full (my hair however was waist-long at the time).

Quite a crowd had gathered as we made our way to the public well to get properly cleaned up. We did enjoy some local notoriety that week and were responsible for that lovely woman getting a new reinforced floor to her outhouse. I don't tell that story often anymore, but after almost 25 years it still makes me cringe - and puts a smile on my face.

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