How I ended up in a Public Hospital in Guatemala

It had to happen. To put yourself in continuous risk sometimes catches up on you. But it doesn´t mean that I´m going to stop getting the most I can from this journey. The doctor was very clear. Eric, by the looks of your injuries your back should be broken or your head should be open. I don´t know how or why but you are a rough guy, like Tarzan. Words that obviously were a compliment to my ears.

Why did the doctor call me Tarzan and not Mowgli to refer to me as a rough guy? Well, this story has a rope in it. But you´ll read about it later.

Lake Flores. My home for the past 3 days

After mi visit to Tikal, my goal was to sleep in Semuc Champey. When I found out it takes around 8 hours to get there from the ruins my plans had to change. I was going to hitchhike but that meant at least 12 hours on the road if I was lucky. I decided to stay one night in a small beautiful town inside a semi-island surrounded by the lake of Flores.

I got there right on time to see the Sunset.

It was really beautiful although I was very tired and didn´t get more pics. See the Kayak below? Well, I kept walking down the road and I heard a voice calling my name. I turned around and it was Julia and Ashley in that same Kayak. You´ll know all about them in the future, especially about Julia, I´m planning to make a post about them. Anyway, they shouted at me that I should stay in Los Amigos hostel when I told them I was looking for a hostel.

I was so happy to run into them that I didn´t care about the hostel price. I got to spend a lot of time with these two girls I met back in Belize and enjoyed the night very much. The next day I spent all morning, evening and night having the most amazing conversation about everything with Julia and then she left on the night bus. It happens, that´s the traveler´s life.

A Trip to the Rope swing in the Northern shore of the Lake

On my 3rd day in flores my plan was to leave very early but a girl I met the night before, Mette from Denmark, convinced me to spend the day in the lake and since I didn´t have any pictures of the lake yet, apart from the sunset one, it was very easy to convince me.

This was my crew for the day. Funny, since I started going down I´m usually part of mostly girl groups. Sadly for the player in me, my mind is with someone else. By the way, Mette is the girl in the middle. She will gain protagonism in this story.

We took a small boat which charged like 3 USD each and hopped into the boat. A 10 minute uneventful ride and we were there. The place a lot of people in the hostel was speaking about. A small setup with a trampoline and a rope to jump in the water.

I have to admit it was very fun and I enjoyed myself a lot. Here are some videos so you can see how it was.

But then I got bold. I didn´t even do it to brag about it or to prove myself to anyone, I just did it because it seemed like the most fun I could have in Flores.

Do you see in the videos and photos how there is a place to jump from the rope and the trampoline is about 6 yards from it? Well, I decided it was a tremendous idea to jump from the trampoline with the rope and make a parabolic swing and let myself go into the water. That was going to be so much fun!

I took the rope, walked to the trampoline, stepped on the cliff and looked around. Big breath and a few steps back were the key for not backing out. And then I ran with my heart and jumped into the open.

It all happened very fast but it is like in the movies. You know it is happening quickly but you see it go down in slow motion.

When I took the steps back a 12 feet boat parked right where I was supposed to land but no one saw it because they were all focused on my stunt.

The moment I took the jump I saw it. There was no going back. It was at least a 10 meter drop into an uneven surface with people in it. I took a split second decision and decided to hold on to the rope and complete the horizontal/downwards parabole. I was gaining momentum and right when I started to go back to complete the circle the girls started to scream and I could hear some guys say “Oh shit he is going too fast”. I was going directly full speed towards the stone stairs to get out of the water and they could already see the outcome. I managed to turn my back and swing a bit and avoided the stairs.

And then I hit the wall, full force with my lower back.

The speed made my head bounce into the wall and I stopped holding on to the rope. I fell into the water with no air in my lungs, no feeling in my legs and a massive pain in my head.

I´m fine, I´m fine. Everything is all right.

I was able to get to shore, don´t ask me how. One local helped me out and I sat in the first step of the stone ladder. I could hear everyone trying to see if I was ok. Some were speaking with each other about how it went out. Some were saying it was the boat´s fault etc. I was scared and was trying to see if I got a major injury.

I am a boy scout and also I know first aid procedures. After I convinced myself that I had no brain damage (Pupils reacting normal, no memory or conscious loss, being able to do mental calculus, equilibrium at its best, among others) I decided it was just a blow and I could shake it off like mostly everything that happens to me.

I´m fine, I´m alright. I shouted. I remember making a joke about how I needed to do that again but without the boat.

But then Mette saw it. A ball the size of a small Labrador in the back of my head where it hit the wall (well maybe not a Labrador but you know I like hiperboles, but it was pretty big). I felt it and that´s when I got scared. I proceeded to climb the stairs and that is when I got terrified. My legs were not responding. The pain in them was overwhelming so at least I knew I wasn´t paralyzed but even so, I couldn´t move them at all.

Here I am on the boat getting to shore, Mette got me some ice. Ignore my fat ass, please.

Mette noticed all of this and grabbed my stuff and told me in an angry motherly voice “We are going to the hospital, don´t even think about refusing”. I probably would have skipped the hospital and just go back to the hostel and sleep it off. I met this girl the day before but when she told me that I got helped into the boat and didn´t even think for a second about arguing.

A trip to the hospital. No shirt and no shoes, just fear.

Thank God for women, without them we would still be fighting each other with sticks trying to see who builds a better fire.

I am so grateful that Mette ordered me to go back to shore. She went with me on the boat. Then she rode a moto-taxi to the hospital with me. In the hospital, she stayed the 4 hours required for my assessment without speaking any Spanish. Thank god for her.

We got to the public hospital, yes public hospital in Guatemala, and it took about an hour for the doctor to see me. Did some tests to make sure I didn´t have brain damage and confirmed my suspicions. My head was fine. But the trauma was very big so I needed X-Rays to confirm.

I laid on my chest and my back was subject to a very unsexy and very painful massage on my bruised and all black back and then I heard the same words. I think you didn’t break anything but I´m not sure, we need X-rays.

I have to admit I was scared as hell. My main concern was not being able to walk properly again. Imagine that you live for traveling, hiking and exploring. The fear of losing my movement had me on the verge of tears.

After 12 X-rays and 2 hours I got the X-Ray images and Mette, who was with me every second, took me on the wheelchair to see the doctor again.

Note to side: Mette was in shock. For her, a third world hospital was new and she was quite horrified. Let me put this clear, I am from México and I am used to this, so this paragraph is just describe, not criticize. In the 3×3 ER waiting room there were people bleeding, it smelled bad, nurses weren’t using gloves; right next to the X-Ray room there were some workers reparing the ceiling with a welding gun, two doors from the ER someone was hammering so loud that the nurses were struggling to read vitals from patients with the stethoscope; there were needles inside a hole in the wall of the room I was being taken care of. So yeah, this was quite the experience for Mette more than for me.

Anyway, I got the X-Ray Images and went with the doctor. After a few minutes waiting for him to see me I heard the words I had been so anxious to listen:

– You have nothing wrong. Your whole body muscles are contracted and you will be in excruciating pain for the next 2 weeks while your body relaxes and it all gets in place. Nothing is broken or displaced but you have to be careful. About your head, you should take it easy, massage the ball and put ice on it. By the looks of your injuries, you should have broken you back. Take this as a sign from above but overall, you can take another hit like that, Tarzan.

And that my friends, is how I got called Tarzan.

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