"The Bolivian Diary" continued.
01.05.2010 - 04.05.2010 23 °C
Well where to start... probably with the bit where we had to get off our minibus to cross Lake Titicaca as it all went downhill from there. Apparently the minibus was too heavy to cross with passengers in it, so we had to get off, cross in a separate boat and get back on the other side (I'm not surprised - the boat was only marginally bigger than the bus and it looked like it was struggling to stay afloat). Whilst waiting to get back on the bus Naomi spied some sweets on a street stall she had not seen in years - "Nerds"! Unable to contain her excitement and wait to open them on the bus, she began the careful process of opening the cardboard tabs in a certain way, so as not to mix the two flavours. So engrossed in her Nerds she failed to notice the unfortunate kerb and pothole combination in front of her, and duly fell in a hole, tearing a ligament in her ankle.
Meanwhile, I was visiting Bolivia's most disgusting toilet (the most disgusting I have EVER been in anywhere), so only became aware of the Nerd drama when I got back on the bus to look for Sophie and Naomi, to find someone pointing out of the window at Naomi being half-carried, in agony, onto the bus.
Poor Naomi was in so much pain (and at this stage did not know what she had done) so our first priority after arriving in Copacabana, finding our hostel and checking in to dump the luggage, was to find the hospital. We had an insight into just how unhelpful our host would prove to be, when we explained (in Spanish) about Naomi's foot: he refused to call us a taxi to the hospital, wouldn't tell us where we could make an international phone call to notify Naomi's travel insurance, and - this takes the biscuit - charged us 5 Bolivianos for ice to put on Naomi's ankle! Capitalism is alive and well in South America. We have nick-named him 'The Real 3pm' in reference to the tight moody host we had expected in Kyoto ("3pm") who turned out to be fine.
The Bolivian Hospital experience was an interesting one. Our taxi pulled up to find all the hospital staff (about 10) playing volleyball out the front, and the hospital was closed according to the opening times displayed. Thankfully they let us in to assess Naomi anyway, so we can't fault them for helpfulness. They took Naomi straight into X-Ray, where Sophie and I probably also received a dose of radiation as they didn't even bother to shut the door. They seemed to be X-raying the wrong bit of her foot, so from the corridor we helpfully called out words from my Spanish phrasebook that we thought would assist the diagnosis. One of the volleyball-playing men took time-out from the game to brandish a huge needle destined for Naomi's bottom (the seventh bottom injection of her trip, due to receiving 6 already in India!). All three of us felt the need to halt the proceedings at this point to at least ascertain what it was (apparently an anti-inflammatory and pain killer) and ensure that the door to the 'volleyball court' was closed. I insisted repeatedly in my best Spanish that a woman should do it, to which he replied 'Si, si, si' and proceeded to jab it in anyway.
Muchos confusion later we left with several x-rays, paperwork for the insurance claim and some primitive looking wooden crutches. There was apparently no way of calling a taxi and walking was impossible for Naomi as the hospital was on top of a hill with only a steep dirt track leading down. We had to pay the ambulance to drive us back to our hostel and Naomi had to ride up front so Sophie and I were indulged with a trip in a Bolivian ambulance and reclined in comfort amongst the oxygen masks and neck braces as we bounced down the road. I hope "The Real 3pm" saw us and felt guilty as Naomi limped feebly out of the ambulance with her wooden crutches. Probably not as he also wouldn't lend us any towels or even provide any loo roll. What a tight bastard. We managed to trick some loo roll out of a child he'd left manning reception later that night - a new low, exploiting children, but needs must (and after the day we'd had some toilet paper wasn't much to ask for!).
We were only here for a couple of nights so not much else to report except a colourful festival of traditional dancing, music and costumes, which I was thrilled to stumble across, and less thrilled to accidentally become part of (trapped walking amidst the brass band element). N & S went on a boat trip to Isla Del Sol but I didn't fancied the 4 hours of seasickness it would have required, so I stayed ashore and watched the festival instead. Good food here thank goodness! A really nice Mexican restaurant and I even found scrambled eggs on toast. Woohoo! Should keep me going through a few more sparse days. At the hostel the dodgy-looking water heating system was broken so cold showers to add to the list, plus paint peeling off the wall in our cold bedroom. We took the hard-won toilet roll with us to teach "The Real 3pm" a lesson. Hardly a victory. Don't ever stay at 'Brisas Titicaca' in Copacabana, Lake Titicaca!
Onward to Cuzco and Machu Picchu...