Traveling alone (Part II)

So in Colombia I was watching the news. I don’t usually watch the news, but I was eating in a restaurant and the news happened to be on. And this was a different story then the usual Colombian robbery, because this culprit was actually caught! I guess the victim had gotten the license plate in the act. How smart of him!

Of course when I was robbed, I was so close to the license place yet still did not manage to think on my feet and actually write the numbers down. I’m kicking myself now.

So after the man jumps on the back of the bike and they drive off, I realize I’ve been stabbed…. again (just like 7 years prior). I run a few feet to Calle 25 sur from Kr 11 and yell for help. I don’t have a cell phone anymore so I can’t call 911, or the Colombian version of 911, which I think is 123?

Some people came out from there makeshift apartments—in the south of Bogotá as people have children they just keep building more stories onto the apartments to make room for the extra people. Thus apartments have makeshift walls and because they aren’t really walls the inside doors can´t have locks. Roofs made of metal and styrofoam pieces and walls so thin I don’t know if I’m hearing my kitchen sink or the neighbors.

So this family comes out and they don’t know why I’m screaming. I’m wearing a black leather jacket and squeezing the wound for dear life knowing that if I let too much blood come out I’ll pass out. However, because of that, you couldn’t really see the blood or the wound. I pleaded for them to call the police and time was going by, I felt like I was there forever although who knows how long I was really there, even 10 minutes can feel like an hour when you’re waiting for help after being stabbed.

Moreover, I’m usually all about appearances but in my hour of need my intestines went haywire. I all of a sudden felt like I was boiling inside and had to fart. So I said, screw it and decided to let it rip. I thought it would be a small dainty fart, but it ended up being a loud one and it trailed on for quite a while. I thought about quitting half way through but I figured I had already embarrassed myself and decided to finish them off. I’d say probably the most embarrassing part was the smell. I had no idea where this was coming from and the family that was helping me was so close to it. Probably the worst part about this situation was–no. not the farts– but now without my purse or phone, I had no way of contacting anyone. I knew zero phone number’s by heart. I told one of the ladies that was waiting with me where I was staying and that was all I could do. We tried logging into my whatsapp on other people’s phones but I eventually learned that whatsapp does not work this way, you have to be on your own phone with your specific phone number to be able to access your account. It isn’t like facebook, where you can log in anywhere with an email. So I couldn’t retrieve any phone numbers.

As time more time went by and still no authority figures had arrived I started to panic and so I screamed in the street until more people came to see what was going on. Eventually a police officer showed up on a motorcycle. I didn’t know if this was a police officer the family had called or if it was a random one that showed up. But I thought, Dear police officer, what good are you to me on a motorcycle?! At that moment there was so much frustration that I wasn’t able to express because the second the anger came over me was the same second a taxi cab pulled up and the good samaritan family helped me into it and told him to take me to a clinic. The taxi driver knew I had no money and he said it was fine.

At the clinic there was more farting and yes it still smelled really really bad. I’m sure a quick search on google might shed some light into the strange occurrence of gas during a traumatic event, but just in case it doesn’t, I won’t look. But I was in the clinic so it didn’t matter to me that much anymore. When I arrived at the clinic I held my wound so tight and the nurse told me to take my hand off of it, and I think I was so panicked and talking too much about how if I let my arm go I might faint and that I needed to put pressure, that eventually she made me breath in something that calmed me down. She had me lean over the sink while she washed and examined my stab wound. I think I was in a panic and didn’t even know it. And had you known how badly I was stabbed the first time, you’d understand why. Next I sat. I sat for a very long time.

I was able to freak myself out by looking at my arm. It was super inflamed and it hurt to move my fingers, which where turning blue, then purple. I was somehow turning into that fat blueberry that the girl from Willie Wanka and the Chocolate factory, starting with my left hand. In my mind, I was like ‘wtf!’. I kept asking the nurse if this was normal. She said yes and to keep moving my hand, which frankly was tough due to the pain. Then someone shows up at the hospital that I know. It is Francia’s—the airbnb lady I’m staying with—brother. He’s actually a drug dealer and he shows up drunk with his sister in law who is sober. Later he actually talks to me about his ability to get me a gun. Yes… only in Colombia.

The clinic says to sew me up and give me the medicine it will cost 200,000cop. Obviously I didn’t have any money with me. The only money I had was in the house that I couldn’t get into because when the robber’s stole my purse, they also stole my keys and Francia (the lady that lived with me) was conveniently out of town.

So the brother says to get a taxi and go to this other hospital. Since it’s not a private clinic, it will cost way less and maybe his sister-in-law will pay for it. So we go to this next place and wait… again. At this point I already owe the sister in law 60,000 cop for the consultation at the other clinic and the taxi ride. When we get to the next place it turns out to be more money! Thus the doctor at the other clinic that said it be way cheaper at this clinic was wrong, very wrong, and it cost me a taxi ride. It was probably about 11pm at this point, 4 hours after I’d been stabbed and I’m still holding my stab wound shut with my hands. So they took me back to the apartment where I was staying to see if one of the neighbors had a key, or if there was some way or some window I could get in through so that I could get my money and get treatment!

There wasn’t. Giovanni the neighbor at the top floor had tried everything. Francia’s brother said I should sleep in his house until the morning and obviously I knew that I would never feel safe in the drunk drug dealer’s house so I said no. No brainer, I rather sit in the hall all night. Eventually him and his sister-in-law left because they had been with me for hours and hours, none of which were remotely fun, and no one had the money for me to get treated. The thought was “we tried, its out of our hands, lets go home”.

So at the house I was able to get into the main door of course, but not the inner door to where I was living. After about an hour of Giovanni (the upstairs neighbor) trying to do what he could to open the door or make calls etc, it was basically tough luck, we weren’t getting anywhere. He went back up stairs to where he lived and I was left in the dark hallway holding my stab wound. Since the stabbing occurred at 7pm and it was now the middle of the night, I felt like I’d waited enough and so I did what any sane person would do and I started screaming at the top of my lungs in Spanish and telling God to send me an angel. I didn’t scream because I felt like screaming. I screamed because apparently this was the only way to get things done. When you tell people you need help, nothing really happens, but when you scream at the top of your lungs at 1am, stuff starts happening. I guess one sort of reverts back to their primal instincts-the things you do when your a child and you need something. The neighbors came out.

Some ladies that lived in the vecino across from mine came out of their house and neighbor’s from next door knocked on the main door. Then trying a little harder this time to make progress to get me treated somehow, Giovanni said he had a friend with a taxi and he could take me to this other clinic that allows you to pay later since I didn’t have access to my money. By the time we got to the third clinic it was 1am.

I waited 30 minutes to be seen and when they called me up when I was in the bathroom. My punishment for not being ready, was they didn’t see me until an hour and a half later. It’s now 3 am and I’m still holding my wound shut. Ridiculous, right? When they finally see me, they say that they can sew me up now, but I have to wait there until 8am to see if I qualify for this program to get the cost taken care of or reduced. I obviously don’t want to pay but to wait that long in the hospital was not an option. I’d been up all night and I still wanted to go to my CELTA course in the morning. They told me that yes, I could get help and pay after, but the catch was I had to stay in the hospital until I paid. Yippie, another obstacle in my already spectacular night morning.

Giovanni said that he’d walk to his friends house, which would take 15 minutes and he’d borrow money from the friend to pay my hospital bill (and I could pay him back later). I felt bad for Giovanni because he was just a simple neighbor and he’d been with me for hours. Also at that time it was dangerous to walk outside for any reason but I did need the help, so he went.

While he was doing that, I was led into the hospital room. It was unsanitary and gross. They actually put me on a bed which already had blood all over it in various spots. I was not feeling good about this. I looked at it disgusted and I made sure the doctor saw my expressions. I don’t know if that’s why the doctor hated me, or if it was the fact that I had been begging for so long about trying to get help even though I didn’t have money yet, but he definitely had it out for me. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t give me any shots to numb the pain or offer me anything, he didn’t prescribe anything. He just grabbed my arm and stuck a sewing needing in it raw and squished it together to tie it. When he was first about to put the needle in and I looked at him horrified and asked, “Wait! Aren’t you going to numb it!?” he just ignored me and used an aggression that he seemed to rather enjoy. Then He put this 3x3inch square gauze sticker on the deep cut to close the wound and walked out of the room coldly. So I didn’t know anything about when I should take it off or if I should take something to prevent infection. I was just sort of left in the dark… again.

When I got back to the apartment, it was like 7am. I literally slept maybe three hours in this nice neighbors house (these 2 women that had come out when I started screaming hours earlier). Surprisingly, I still managed to make it to my CELTA course at 10am although I didn’t get much work done because I was busy canceling credit cards. Francia didn’t get back from her trip until Monday and the incident had happened on a Thursday, so I had to stay with a friend that weekend and borrow clothes and money to get by until my new debit card came and until Francia was able to open the house. Moral of the story, if you’re going to Colombia, don’t keep valuables in your purse. Many locals already know not to carry a purse but if you do, not to keep valuables in it. Keep your money in your shoe and keep your cellphone in your bra. Also a thank you to Ben, Laura, and Xiomara who nicely lent me money until my debit card came an I made sure to pay them back because A Clark always pays her debts.

 

 

 

 

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