A couple of days after my first Ayahuasca ceremony, my roomies – a delightful wee Irish lass by the name of Niamh (pronounced Neve – a girl I would become really good friends with); another Aussie gal, Nadine; and I decided we would go horse riding down to a nearby waterfall.
On the way back, my horse tripped over a wet log and fell on its front legs. I went flying over the top of his head and bore the brunt of my body on my right shoulder. My sunnies took out a good chunk of skin just near my right eye and somehow I also managed to sustain minor injuries to my left leg. It all happened so quickly – there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it. I just remember hitting the ground and then bursting out into tears. It fucking hurt.
To cut a long story short, I ended up in the local hospital getting yet another shot of anaesthetic (that would be lot # 3 on this trip. Niamh thinks I should BYO next time) before getting two stitches to my eye and the advice to go to Armenia as soon as possible for x-rays.
That night, I collapsed into bed absolutely exhausted. When I awoke – all my adrenalin had worn off and I was in a world of pain. Frida the Swede (one of the three gorgeous volunteers at La Serrana) offered to come to Armenia with me with her very decent Spanish to help translate.
It was there, we had another quintessential Latin American experience. We walked through a security gate which would put most Australian airports to shame. We were seen by 3 different admin people before we got to see an intern. There were a lot of long waits, a bit of paperwork and being shuffled around from room to room.
I was forced into a wheelchair to be taken to a room upstairs. Frida & I were falling apart at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. We were sent back downstairs and shuffled around a bit more, while various kids in orthodontic braces looked at my x-rays. It was a long time coming before we got any kind of diagnosis. The details of which are still a complete mystery to this day.
They then told us we needed to go procure a sling which they would then fit once we returned. We tried to leave the building the way we came however the guards would only let Frida leave. For some reason I’m still not clear on, I had to stay put. So Frida left, went to 3 different pharmacies and came back sans sling.
No dramas: we’d go to the pharmacy in the private hospital and if necessary we could get them to fit the sling there. We informed the admin kids of our intentions and they told us we couldn’t leave without the right permissions. WTF!
I picked up my x-ray and made my way to the nearest door, figuring I didn’t need any goddamn permission to leave. It’s a hospital right? Not a freaking prison.
It was then things started to get really interesting.
The door was locked and the security guards wouldn’t let us pass. Frida & I initially started off calmly explaining our situation and quietly asking why we couldn’t leave. When we were told it was for our own safety, in case we weren’t psychologically fit to leave – it was then we started to lose our shit. This was the epitome of ludicrous. We started getting antsy with the guards and this quickly escalated into a screaming session. Frida in Spanish & Swedish, and I in English (I figured they would get my gist). They weren’t offering us any advice or solutions. We both felt frustrated and moreover, trapped. I started yelling something about being detained against my will and wanting to call the Australian Embassy. Quite the crowd gathered to see what the crazy gringas were carrying on about but noone stepped in to try and help. Possibly they had concluded we were indeed not psychologically fit to leave.
By this stage, Frida had lost the ability to communicate in any language. And I also was at a loss for words. A man was let in from outside to help translate. We resumed our shouting until eventually we had to take a breath. The man then very calmly spoke to us: yes, he empathised and, yes the system was shit, and yes, he would help us leave.
Then the penny dropped. This man wasn’t staff. FUCK. We had been yelling at a regular guy who was simply stepping in to help. Woops.
I started asking him questions. Turns out his grandfather was in the ER and the stupid security guards weren’t letting him INTO the hospital. Another WTF! So apart from being yelled at by a couple of crazy girls – our situation had actually benefited him in that he would now be able to see his grandfather. But Frida and I couldn’t have been sorrier. We felt absolutely terrible. This poor man’s grandfather could potentially be dying and we were standing there shouting at him.
In the end, he found a staff member who could organise the paperwork for us to be able to leave the hospital. We apologised profusely, wished him & his family the best and bid him farewell. I paid my outrageously expensive bill and we left.
A couple of hours later we were back in the peaceful surrounds of La Serrana, me in a sling and happily drugged up, recounting our now hilarious story to anyone who would listen. I did a lot of self-medicating that night and decided I would ask Jon (the owner) ASAP if I could stay on to volunteer when Sammy left. Even if I had wanted to leave (which I didn’t) – there was no way I’d physcially be able to pick up my backpack for some time anyways. It seemed fate was convening to keep me here – at least for the time being.