Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Not The Motorcycle Diaries Repost

Well, Not The Motorcycle Diaries has had a bit of a hiccup en route from Guadalajara to Puebla (I’m a bit behind on keeping the blog up to date in real time). We’ve been trying to cut down on costs so we’ve avoided the autopiste (the nice, safe, private toll roads of Mexico) and stuck to the libre roads which are notoriously more clogged and dangerous.

Nice and subtle foreshadowing.

Queue music. Dum. Dum. Dum.

Leaving Enlaces Mexico (aka our friend Jody's business) in Guadalajara.

En route to Puebla after the second time in two hours Josh's bike broke down.

The hailstorm was so intensely loud on the tin roof we could shout and still not hear eachother.

We’d just experienced an intense hailstorm which we had to get off of the road in order to shelter from. It went on for about half an hour as we waited it out in a mechanics shop and then we got back on the road for a while and hit some traffic. We were thinking about turning back for the autopiste but instead we rode the shoulder for quite some time. +Josh Rowan was riding ahead of me about a mile. The traffic was jammed as far as the horizon with tractor-trailers turning off their engines to wait out what we later came to know was actually quite usual. I was going about 25mph when a red 1990 Jetta pulled out of nowhere perpendicularly in front of me. Apparently a truck had made room for this car to get through and make a turn after having been traveling in the opposite direction of me. I applied the brakes and tried to swerve right in order to avoid him but he was traveling at too fast of a rate and I was hit by the front drivers side of the car. This sent first me through my windshield and then the bike airborne for about 25 feet. The bike and I separated from eachother and all I could think was, ‘This isn’t normal,’ as I flew through the air looking down at the ground as things I recognized spiraled away from me and then landed five feet from the motorcycle.

What's left of the motorcycle after the crash.

What's left of the 1990 Jetta that hit me. The black streak is from my left handlebar.

Probably my favorite photo from the trip so far... Always Smiling!

Where I went through the windshield. Notice the dent in the gas tank.

That's where my knee went into the tank before I took flight.

The realization and the pain start to set in.

I instantly got up and looked around at all my things and pieces of the bike strewn across the little ravine we had landed in. Then I noticed that the motorcycle was on fire after the dizzy lights in my vision dissipated and started yelling to the people whom had already gathered around for water. ‘Agua, agua!’ everyone began to yell as the flames got bigger and bigger. One of the guys that was in the red car started walking towards the bike with a liter of water and I stopped him long enough to warn him about the dangers of an explosion. A woman then came up and told me to lie down and relax and that she was a nurse. Joshua was still a mile away and I could see that he had stopped and was waiting for me so I began to yell his name somewhat frantically since I knew at some point he’d probably end up being my EMT. I was lying down by the time he finally skidded to a stop five feet from me. I had just noticed that blood was seeping through my left sock and so I tried to reach down and take my shoe off when I noticed a pretty sharp pain up near my right shoulder. I still managed to get my shoe off and then the nurse that happened on the scene took off the sock for me. The top of my foot was pretty much split open. I sat still as Josh checked me for a concussion and vital signs as well as any other damage (a pretty deep bruise on my right thigh where my pen had skid along with me until it exploded) before checking on the motorcycle which had luckily been put out.

The sweet nurse called an ambulance and the police had recently arrived. They asked some questions as I lay immobile and the three guys from the car tried to help as well. ‘Lo siento, lo siento,’ I told them and one of them replied, ‘Le Valle Madre, lo que es importa es que tu eres bueno.’ “It doesn’t matter, what’s important is that you’re alright.”

The ambulance finally arrived thirty minutes later. They cut me out of my clothes as they bandaged my foot wound and put me in a neck brace and restraints in order to transport me to the hospital.

The paramedics said it would take another twenty minutes before we made it to the hospital and offered me a drip for the pain which I declined (don’t really want a needle stuck in my arm in a moving vehicle on Mexican roads). But now my foot is really starting to hurt and the ambulance is going at a very slow rate due to the fact that my situation isn’t grave. As I stared at the lights on the ceiling of the ambulance it reminded me of the only other time I’ve been in an accident and funnily enough it pretty much happened the same way: I was fifteen and riding my friend David Smith on the handlebars of my BMX on the way to soccer practice when we were waved across a four lane highway by a motorist. But it happens that I can’t see beyond the car that has stopped and I start to cross the road and lo and behold we get hit by a car. I went flying for about thirty feet doing a couple of flips and land on my head while my friend David scratches a little bit of his elbow. I refused to allow the doctor to give me stitches since I’d never had any and wanted to keep it that way. This time I was the one asking for stitches to be done sooner rather than later.

We arrived at Los Angeles Hospital and I was wheeled out and introduced to the doctors and given an assessment by the paramedics. They cut off the rest of my clothes (except the red star Che shirt which I respectively and painfully asked them to take off of me without cutting me) and decided that some x-rays needed to be taken. As the young attractive Doctora was taking down my information it came to whether I was married or single and I answered, Why? with raised eyebrow. Always a good line. She somewhat gruffly answered, ‘Because we need your information.’ Then I explained that it was a broma or joke and she thought that was pretty funny from a guy with a broken clavicle and wide open foot. She and another doctor wheeled me through some gently slopping corridors which brought me back to another dream I’d had before embarking on this trip which was strikingly similar (slowly being wheeled through a sterile hallway and only being able to look at the ceiling and unable to move) in which I am forgotten in a hospital after having x-rays taken. So I start to get a little worried once I’m wheeled into the x-ray room and everyone leaves the room. Luckily the technician kept coming back to adjust the machine to take more x-rays but after twenty minutes of x-rays I started to get a little anxious about the large open wound on my foot and asked my doctor if she knew that I had a large gash on my foot since it was all covered in gauze and a cast. She looked somewhat startled and disappeared for a bit and then asked the x-ray technician to finish up.

They wheeled me back to the ER and took the cast apart and realized perhaps it was time (about two hours later) to stitch me up. Josh turned up at the hospital before the local anesthetic was stuck into my open wound with a big needle. He’d been at the scene collecting my strewn luggage for some time and dealing with the authorities regarding insurance and carting of the motorcycle to the impound before being given a ride to the hospital by a bystander at the accident by the name of Jose Luis who just happened to own a motorcycle shop. Josh was just in time to shoot this video of the local anesthetic being applied and then the stitches sewing the gash back together and although he said he had to return to Jose Luis and our baggage I could tell that he was getting a bit squeamish from his hurried exit and the words, ‘I can’t stay here anymore.’

Definitely check out the videos (kinda gory but still fun…)

They finished stitching me up and went away for a while leaving me alone to ponder what the hell I’m going to do now that I’m maimed and my motorcycle is destroyed. Well, the trip must go on since this is just the first country we’ve made it to. I need at least three weeks of recuperation. The motorcycle is totaled and it would cost more than I paid for it to fix it and that would take upwards of two months to fix so that’s not an option. I could hitch-hike and take buses for a while but somehow I don’t think I could afford that either. I guess I’ll just have to focus on getting better for now because I don’t like where this slippery slope is going.

I know, I know, I do look good in scrubs.

The head doctor, Dr. Vargas, came back in and explained my predicament: from the x-rays I have a 25% fracture of my right clavicle that will take about three weeks to heal with an upper body brace and I’ve received twelve stitches in my left foot which will need to be taken out in ten days while in the meantime I wear what looks to be a snowboarding boot to protect it. And now for the fun part, payday! Josh has returned and is helping me pay and figure out how to get to the hotel that he has sequestered our things in when my Doctora offers to give me a ride in her car since she’s getting off soon anyway.

We head to the hotel that Doctora Daniela, lo mejor doctorcita en Mexico, as she insists we call her, has never heard of in her town of Queretaro. She and the security guard help me up to the room as Josh heads to the pharmacy for some meds (not any fun ones just an anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxant, and an antibiotic). Daniela tucks me in and leaves her phone number so that we’re not totally lost in some city we think we’ve never been in before and says goodnight. I dose off as is my want usually when things go wrong or right. Josh wakes me up with pills and food and I gladly partake. We watch a bit of television and turn off our brains for a bit since they’ve been fried by a day of officials and the gravity of hospital situations. The television then scrambles into indecipherables.

The next day I wake up and Dr. Daniela Juarez Moran is standing in the doorway as Josh mills about the room. He’d called her after she’d offered to show us the old town of Queretero. They hustled me out of bed and I hobbled through the lobby and folded myself into the passenger side of her car not knowing quite what to expect (normally the day after something like what had happened to me I stay in the fetal position in bed for twenty-four hours). As we approach the downtown a series of connected arches come into view and we start to drive parallel to them; turns out its an ancient aqueduct that Daniela tells us a monk built to deliver fresh water to the nun he was in love with. We scoff in a sort of disbelief but then Josh remembers having had our picture taken in front of similar arches many years ago. We get out of the car and walk around the cobblestone streets (a bit difficult with my big slippery boot thing) and sit at the puppy fountain for a while before looking for a bite to eat. Josh orders chamarra which turns out to be the calf muscle of pigs/cows depending on the place. This place being luckily the latter. Turned out to be quite delicious and we all ate a bit of his before heading back to meet up with Daniela’s sister Tania at a bar that they frequent by the name of Rumi’s.

Pretty happy to be alive and pretty happy about my doctor.

Me, My Doctor, Her Sister, and La Guerra aka The Blond.

Joshua holding himself back from climbing los arcos, the aquaduct.

All of the girls taking care of my bandages...

Joshua and I enjoying the sights of old town Queretaro.

This is perfect since it just so happens that these girls love Bacardi Rum and are on their way to becoming rummy’s. Diana, another sister of theirs, is waiting for us along with an assortment of friends including a cousin and her fiancé and the ever present La Guera or The Blond (real name Brigitte and apparently being known as The Blond in Mexico doesn’t have the same connotations as in America). Daniela also comes from a family of four siblings which almost mimics our family of four brother’s ages. We take the party back to the one and only hotel we’ve stayed in for some drinks and a game called Castigo which literally means punishment and involves dominos and booze and punishment. I believe Josh had to do 70 push ups and I did dance along to Ricky Martin for a bit and La Guera did some sort of leg contortionist thing but I don’t think it was part of the game.

La Guera striking a pose.

We wind up the night and Tania and Daniela invite us to stay at their house since we can’t afford to stay in the $100 a night hotel so the next day I once again am woken by Daniela and Josh milling about the room packing up my stuff (please notice the trope). We moved in the next day and had quite an eventful week which I’ll post next and which won’t be too long in the making (please give me one or two days, my clavicle kinda hurts.) That’s right I played the clavicle card.

So, in closing of this momentous post I'd just like to thank everyone that has supported us on this trip so far and as you can see the adventure will continue - albeit I'm not entirely sure how right now but I have faith in the fact that things always turn out right. They have so far.