I want to ride my bicycle…

Lying back staring at the blood splattered ceiling I’m wondering what injury had been treated in this room that splatted blood seven feet high. My minds dwelling on all manner of injury types when I’m suddenly jolted back into the present by the feeling of needle and twine going through my skin…

After finding an apartment and booking the first two weeks of Spanish lessons, next on the agenda was to find some way to maintain some semblance of fitness while enjoying the magnificent steaks and red wine of Buenos Aires, and indeed to continue to rehabilitation of my knee after my pre-Christmas arthroscopy. Unlike Sydney, swimming pools were not in abundance, and my knee was not yet up to pounding the pavement.

The first of these I could address by joining one of the many fitness centres in B.A. A booming industry, it seems the fight for the “body beautiful” has well and truly his Buenos Aires too. Though truth be told, the porteños had always cared about their looks, it just seemed that processed foods and the multitude of home entertainment options were catching up with them too.

However I have never been a gym person. I know it’s great for eye candy, and in a new city probably ideal for meeting someone of the opposite sex. But in all honesty, gyms bore me to tears!

But a solution was found: In one of the major parks not too far from my apartment, a 10km run/cycle circuit with 7 or 8 workout stations along the course. Love those outdoor workout stations, must be the “indoor” part of fitness centres I’m not a fan of. So with my knee not quite up to regular, sustained jogging, and the park a good 30 minute walk from home, I decided a cheap bike was in order.

So, what was available in B.A. on the cheap? Checked Craigslist, only bike available was an overpriced second hand, damaged bike from an American guy, 400 pesos (US$100) with broken gears. He bought it new for only 600 pesos yet wanted to sell it broken for only 33% off? No thanks. Made more sense to me to buy a new, undamaged bike for 600 pesos and sell in 3 or 6 months time for 400 pesos!

Thankfully the guy had mentioned a nearby bike shop, on Guemes near Godoy Cruz. Wandered along in hope, and found a couple in the area. So now the interesting part, to find a bike and then negotiate a price with no Spanish. Thankfully, armed with pen, paper and an English-Spanish dictionary, I exited one of the stores the proud owner of a new bike!

So I headed home astride my new beast of the streets, a single gear, God knows what brand bicycle, perfect for the streets of a very flat BA. Had a little concern with the peddles not feeling 100% smooth as they rotated, but figured that was the price to pay for a cheap, no name bike… but then as I accelerated from a traffic light up a slight incline, disaster!!

The left peddle suddenly snapped off, my left leg fell and the peddle arm sliced into my leg just above the knee. Gaping wound, blood everywhere… in a foreign city where I don’t speak the language, don’t really know anyone, what do I do?

I picked up my peddle from the street, and proceeded to walk the 8 blocks or so to my apartment. First thing I had to do was get home and wash the wound. Did my best to stem the flow of blood, figured my shorts were done anyway so a little more blood won’t make a difference. Trickles of blood dripping down my leg, watching for peoples’ faces to register my plight but they remained seemingly oblivious.

Made it home, up the escalator, and safely home. Jumped in the shower, water washes away the congealed blood… and boy, is that a gaping wound for what I thought a fairly minor accident. Yep, will definitely need stitches. Great! Now need to go to the hospital in a city where I don’t speak the language, it gets better and better.

I text the only three people I know in BA: my landlord, Jacqui from the US, and my new friend Guillermo. I don’t want to be a bother to people I hardly know, but I need a little guidance.

Text back from landlord, address of the nearest emergency room to go to (Hospital Bernardino Rivadavia), advice to take my passport. Get dressed, towel over wound (will need to replace that one), outside and hail a taxi. Head to emergency room fearing the worst, an hours long wait for attention.

stitchesArrive, go to front desk, no Spanish but pointing to wound it’s pretty obvious what I require. Somehow communicate my personal information, sit down to wait for what I presume is a while. But lo and behold, someone calls my name within 10 minutes. And that’s where we entered this post, me lying back looking at a blood splattered ceiling. Stitches were done quickly, and I was out of there and home within 20 minutes. And all this for free. Big ups to the public hospital system of Buenos Aires! (though a funky scar I will have!)

1 comment

  1. Something similar happened to a friend of mine and he forgave Argentina for everything after being assisted quickly at the ER’s of the public free hospital. Don’t forget to go for the second shot!

    A public hospital for other not-so-urgent things is HELL!

    And for future reference, you know what they say: you pay peanuts….. and in Argentina, perhaps more than anywhere else.

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