I must admit that, other than surviving, this was not a good time. 6 days in the hospital and the stronger I became, the more troublesome I became to the 2 doctors that managed the hospital. One doctor had spent a little time in the Doctors without Borders and had learned some English and he seemed to become the target of my frustration. I didn’t understand the gravity of my ailment and I wanted to continue on my travels, although I knew motorcycling was out of the question. Shari, on the other hand, was a captive in a strange country with no understanding of the customs, no language and was still responsible for my primary care. We had only the clothes that we arrived with, which excluded my wallet. Banks would not accept Visa nor would they exchange US currency for pesos because Shari was not a bank customer. I received meals of a sort, although it became very obvious that the hospital was extremely poor and couldn’t afford much. I had a large tube attached to my ribs that discharged blood into a large gallon bottle. In all, it drained 1 1/2 litres of blood. The shock to the body from the accident had dramatically increased my proportions. I couldn’t believe how my entire body was enormous. I had Shari take pictures of what I termed ‘the Michelin Man” Each day, they doctors sent me for Xrays and I was told I had one broken bone, which from the pain in my shoulder, it appeared to be the Scapula.
I was able to walk the halls pulling my bottle-in-a cardboard box like a wagon in search of some area of the small hospital that might have wifi. One funny story revolved around me complaining during morning rounds that an orderly who arrived at 4:00 am to check the saline drip had caused me to have an asthma attack with strong after shave and the smell of smoke from his clothes. The doctor said “well, I smoke” and I explained that we was at the end of the bed and not right beside me. Well, I thought that I put my point across and that was the end. Until my mid-afternoon jaunt in search of wifi. I found a sitting area with skylights and comfortable chairs and settled down with my IPAD, when suddenly the doctor arrived and said ‘you can’t sit here”. Then he further explained “we (the doctors) smoke here”!!. Which they certainly did – smoke and shared a caffeine drink called Mate.
Shari and I desperately felt the need to contact family to let them know our status. The wifi was weak but still somewhat accessible. Shortly, the research technician who checked my blood each day, took an interest in Shari and, as she spoke some English, invited her to a shopping trip. That was quite an exercise and culture shock.. Then, Maria, who owned the the Hacienda that I was supposed to sleep at the night of the accident, contacted a local citizen, Ricardo, to come and help. He met Shari in the halls and offered English-speaking support. Ricardo had traveled a little and engaged a mentor to learn English. Wow, he retained a lot. He invited Shari to his home and made REAL coffee. On the last day, after tubes were removed, I was able to visit Ricardo and his coffee was a taste of heaven and he let us use his Wifi to connect to the world. I met another hospital worker – who also took a strong interest in recovery. Alejandro was the phyiologist/ respirologist and he came in to give me breathing exercises to practice each day. Finally, my doctor relented and said that I could leave on the following day. They agreed to provide me with a letter stating I was able to fly but they insisted i go home immediately and check with my doctor upon arriving home. Going home was kinda tricky since we were no near an airport with international connections. With a lot of help, I arranged through the head office of GlobeBusters, and MotoAventura to locate a driver who would come and fetch Shari and I, albeit at considerable expense. It wasn’t going to be easy as the driver lived 1000 kms away in Puntas Arenas and Argentinian cities and roads had gas embargoes everywhere. There was no guarantee that gas would be available at any city at any time. And, when gas did arrive, lineups could last for many hours, maybe days.. So, our driver filled up his SUV with jerry cans of gas and headed north. He arrived on Saturday afternoon, several hours late after being in the car for about 11 hours. And, to his chagrin, I wanted out of that town forthwith……………….so, with our few belongings that Shari had purchased, we headed out of Gobernador Gregores and towards El Calafate – a trip of 350 km that I thought would be a breeze but which turned out to nothing but.