Friday night, while walking to a cafe to get internet with a side of generic food, I found a steel spike in the ground. I found it with my toe. Then I inspected the ground with my knees, my forearms, and then my face. In one strangely fluid, slow motion, I toppled over like Gulliver, tripped by an imperceptible force of mine people.
I lay flat. Kristin waiting for me to move. I didn't say my usual mocking "I'm OK." I mentally scanned my body, but I wasn't sure how hard I hit the ground. It seemed slow, but was it? I had my pack on, loaded with food and books. Surely the added weight didn't help. Upon visual inspection, I found my pants were torn, but my jacket and arms were dirty but otherwise unharmed, the area between my lip and chin was already puffy and bleeding, and my left foot felt like an elephant stepped on it.
My toe didn't feel broken, so we went to the cafe. I slyly elevated it under the table while we charged our computer, checked email, and played more rummikub. At 11pm, we walked a few blocks to the train station where we caught our overnight bus to Neuquen. I couldn't sleep all night because of the throbbing, even after Tylenol Extra Strength and Tylenol PM.
Upon arriving at Neuquen, we went to the central hospital. While it certainly didn't inspire confidence with it's aged facade and crumbling walls, I was well taken care of. A female doctor checked out my toe, a female nurse poked me in the butt with some pain killer, then I got some x-rays taken, and the doctor consulted with me again. Nothing was broken, but she prescribed anti-inflammation meds, rest, elevation, ice, and compression. This all cost me exactly zero pesos. Converted to dollars, that's zero dollars. I went to the pharmacy to fill my prescription. Within 10 minutes, I had consulted with the pharmacist about which med to take (name-brand or generic), paid, and was out the door. Total cost? $10 pesos - about $2.50 US.
(Feigning a smile while waiting at the emergency room)
I'm so glad that universal healthcare has been derailed. It would be horrible if our family and friends had to worry about shelling out this kind of money for healthcare. Only rich countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Brazil can afford such extravagance.
Well, our day in Neuquen was nice. I hung out a park reading War and Peace while Kristin brought me food and treats. She is the best!
Yesterday we took another overnight bus to Mendoza. We are now going out to a vegetarian buffet, which there are several to chose from in this great city.
Tonight we are on yet a third overnight bus to Córdoba, to visit our friend Carmela.
Using a public park in Mendoza to eat breakfast, brush our teeth and repack. Hurrah for the vagabond lifestyle.