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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

MacGyver tries out the Mexican hospital

Apparently Dave felt that a trip to Mexico was not complete without a tour of the Naval Hospital clinic.  And time was running out because we leave Mexico for El Salvador in under two weeks.

Today we had planned to do a few boat projects.  Dave wanted to go up the mast to check on several things.  Melissa hates it when Dave goes up the mast because, well, its dangerous.  Yes, he is super careful, and uses a safety line.  But it still makes her nervous so Steve from Saltydog came over to help if Dave needed anything while 65 feet in the air.  Of course, all was fine.  He was able to accomplish multiple missions.  (1) The jib sheet was hard to pull up last time we raised the sail and we were worried it had gotten twisted up.  It was fine.  (2) We had a leak in the mast where there was water coming down inside the insulation of one of the wires.  This turned out to be a wire that was hanging just right to catch the rain.  Dave put a zip tie on it so that it can't catch the rain anymore.  (3) The radar is skewed sometimes and Dave wanted to see what was wrong.  Appears that the belt is loose.  So Dave is working on getting some parts to fix it. 

Apparently Melissa worries about the wrong things.  Because a while later Dave was taking out the trash.  As he stepped off the boat with the large trash bag the bag thumped up against his leg.  He says "ouch" and looks down to see blood everywhere.  We later discovered a beer bottle had broken its top off and the sharp glass was sticking out of the bag and impaled him but good.  Dave buys his beer in can's but the kind Melissa likes only comes in glass bottles.  Melissa might have to give up the good stuff.  Melissa ran and got the QuikClot.  You all have some right?  You all listened when Melissa lectured everyone about this stuff some months back?  Well anyway, Melissa grabs a pack and slaps it on the wound staunching the flow.  Yeah, ok, he wouldn't have died if we didn't have any.  The gash wasn't that big.  But it sure helped.  We wrap him up with the QuikClot against the wound.  Another one of the cruisers stopped by and said that he had a medical kit with stiching equipment but didn't want to actually sew anyone up unless he was at sea and had no choice.  We replied that yeah, we've got the equipment too, but we really don't want to try it out if we don't have to.  Thank goodness we are up on our Tetanus shots.  We got everything from Tetanus to Rabies vaccinations before we left town.  So at least we don't have to worry about that.

Melissa then runs over to the marina office and asks for help.  We need a taxi and we need to know which hospital to go to for a few stiches.  Oh goodness they say.  Is he ok?  Melissa assures them he is fine.  We just need the taxi.  Oh no, this will not do.  The manager goes and grabs the assistant manager and tells him to drive us over.  (Melissa's chocolates will be delivered to those who helped out tomorrow.  See we knew we needed to bring those suckers along.) The manager again asks Melissa if she is really sure he is ok.  She assures him that Dave is ok and won't die between here and the hospital.

The drive through the Naval base was interesting.  Its where they train their marines - so there was a big field filled with obstacle courses, ropes, tires, etc that looked like something out of Officer and a Gentleman.  Melissa thought about asking the marina guy to pull over so she could take a picture for the blog, but thought that might be considered rude.  We had to pass by two roadblocks on the base to make it to the clinic.  The marina guy who drove us wouldn't leave till the medical technician came out so he could translate what had happened.  Turned out the technician spoke a bit of English.  So the marina guy could leave us with his cell phone number for when we were ready to come back.

So we settled into the tiny  waiting room surrounded by crying infants that were brought to the clinic by their Mom's.  Wasn't clear if the kids were sick or if they were just there for checkups.  After a few minutes Dave mentions that he's getting dizzy.  Melissa looks over and Dave is white as a sheet.  Must be a bit of shock since he hasn't lost that much blood.  A few minutes later his color comes back.  And after about 20 minutes the technician comes to get us.  They put us ahead of everyone else in the waiting room.  Wasn't clear if that was because we are Americans or if a bleeding wound trumps sick babies.  Dave figures it was the former.

The technician asks for the third time now what happened.  Dave again explains.  Not clear if they didn't quite understand and wanted to make sure they had the story straight or if they didn't believe him.  The technician asks Dave to take off the bandage.  Which of course causes the wound to open up and start bleeding again.  The technician's eyes get big and he gestures for Dave to put it back on.  We sit for a few minutes in the clinic with Dave lying on the bed.  Apparently we are a bit of an oddity as a half dozen workers in the facility had to come take a peek at the injured white dude.  They would come in the room just far enough to poke their head around the partitions to take a look and then disappear.  Clearly word had spread and they had to come see for themselves.

Here's Dave not looking very happy while waiting for the doctor:

When the doctor showed up to put the three stiches in (the wound was very deep but not very long) he tossed Melissa out.  He probably was worried she would faint watching him stich Dave up.  Melissa wanted to tell them this wasn't her first time watching Dave get stitched up but figured there was no way anyone's English good enough to get that meaning across.  Then the thought dawns that maybe the doctor kicked her out because they want to see if Dave's story changes with Melissa out of the room.  The wound does look like a knife cut after all.

When Dave was all sewn up the technician explains to us that its a free clinic so no payment is needed.  Melissa tries to ask if there is a local charity we can donate to - like a Navy family support fund or something.  But he just keeps saying "yes, charity, no payment needed".  Might have to see if the marina office can help us tomorrow with finding somewhere to make a donation.

So back to the marina we go.  Melissa then needs to go into town and fill the prescriptions the doctor gave us for pain killers and antibiotics.  Though Melissa figures filling the pain prescription is probably useless as getting Dave to take a pain killer more than some ibuprofen is typically a lost cause.  She goes to the marina office to ask what pharmacy to go to.  There is typically a pharmacy on every street corner, but most specialize in Viagra.  So they tell her which pharmacy to go to in the big town of Tapachula.  She walks out to the road and flags down a taxi.  Kingston's instructions about never flagging down a taxi in Mexico because its safer to get one at the taxi stand roll through her head.  But hey - the nearest taxi stand is a taxi ride away.  She shows the address to the taxi driver and he shakes his head yes.  Melissa asks how much.  He holds up four fingers (meaning $400 pesos), Melissa continues to stare at him, he lowers one finger, Melissa continues to stare silently and he lowers another finger.  Yep $200 pesos will work.  Melissa pulls a $200 peso bill from her purse and holds it up as confirmation.  He nods, she gets in.  An odd conversation ensues wherein the taxi driver tries to convince her to go to the pharmacy in the nearby port town instead of going all the way to Tapachula.  That Melissa caught on to what he was trying to say was nothing short of a minor miracle as he speaks not a word of English.  But she replies, "muy grande pharmacia".  Ah, he nods his head.  Then he proceeds to explain that his taxi can't go to Tapachula.  Again another minor miracle that Melissa catches on to his meaning.  She says "dos taxis?" and he nods.  So he drives down the road to the nearest taxi stand where she can get in a cab licensed for Tapachula.  She pays him $50 pesos.  She fumbles in her purse looking for the piece of paper with the address - looking every bit dumb blonde.  And then another negotiation ensues.  The next cab driver tries to tell her its $400 pesos.  Melissa shakes her head no way.  She must look like a sucker today.  Sheesh.  Eventually after arguing back and forth she gets out a $200 peso bill from her purse and holds it up, as in "this is what I am willing to pay".  Thank goodness someone had told us what a ride into town was supposed to cost.  He nods his head and Melissa hops in.

At the pharmacy there were several interesting conversations as Melissa had taken a couple of other routine prescriptions we needed to get filled.  The pharmacist (again all in Spanish) was able to communicate that (1) Melissa had to buy two boxes of antibiotics because one box wasn't quite enough.  Yes, Melissa confirms she doesn't want to return 4 days from now to get 1 more day's worth.  That the pharmacist would even want to ask this shows just how poor the country is - the antibiotic was $3.70 US dollars a box.  (2) That they only had pills that were twice the dosage of Melissa's osteoporosis drug so she would have to cut them in half.  (3) That they couldn't sell her more than one box of the osteoporosis drug because that was all they had in stock.  Ok, that all might not sound very complicated, but when its in Spanish...

So Melissa goes outside to negotiate with yet another taxi driver.  She tells him she wants to go to "Zona Naval, Marina Chiapas".  He repeats "Zona Naval?" with a disbelieving look on his face.  Melissa assures him this is where she wants to go.  He holds up 2 fingers and then makes a motion in the air like a straight line.  Melissa figures that means $200.  Ok, so off we go.  Once in the cab the driver tries to ask her why she wants to go to the Navy base.  She tries to explain, to no avail.  So she finally pulls a boat card - which has a picture of the boat out of her purse and hands it to him.  We are at a stop light and he studies the picture so intently that the light turns green and everyone around him is honking.  He hands the card back and says something that apparently means he is impressed.  Melissa thinks she has convinced him to take her where she wants to go.  But when we get to the turn off the main highway to go to the Navy base, he pulls off the road in front of a huge road sign that points one way to Zona Naval, another way to the airport, etc.  He points at the sign.  Melissa smiles and points in the direction of the Navy base, as in "yes, I really want you to go this way".  The driver shakes his head in disbelief but complies.  When we reach the marina entrance, Melissa can see he isn't slowing down.  So she says "aqui, aqui" which means "here".  He pulls over, and a big smile appears on his face.  Ahhhh!  Now he gets it!  She hands him $200 + $20 tip.  He shakes his head and pulls out a $50 - meaning "you owe me another $50".  Sigh.  I guess maybe that hand gesture didn't mean $200 even but instead meant two hundred and a half.  Oh well, $250 was fair given the distance.

Meanwhile Dave, not to be kept down for long, starts helping out Saltydog filling their fuel tank from Gerry cans.  He gets out his handy dandy cruiser syphon - which amazes Joan and Steve.  Ok, yeah, it is pretty cool that you can start a syphon without any of the "sucking on the hose" business.  Steve had bought one can too many - so the last of the diesel finds its way into Apsaras' tank.  Meanwhile all the cruisers in the marina are coming by to check on Dave.  Apparently word of his injury has spread throughout the small marina. Dave tells everyone he's going to change his story and claim a crocodile attack.

Before we left for the hospital, Melissa asked Joan if she wouldn't mind taking care of dinner tonight.  Before Dave got hurt we had been planning to go to the grocery store together to plan dinner.  But not knowing how long it would take at the ER, Melissa asked Joan if she could do it.  And boy did she do it up right.  New York steaks, creamed potatoes with peas, and spinach and beet salad with feta and pistachio nuts.  She said she figured Dave needed a good dinner after his ordeal.  After which we decided it needed to be movie night so we watched Dangerous Beauty - which Joan and Steve loved.

Then it was time to put a very worn out Dave to bed.  He wants to take off the bandages.  Melissa says, no not till tomorrow.  Dave says he hurts.  Ok, he's entitled to be a tad cranky at this point as the ibuprofen he took earlier is starting to wear off.  So Melissa gives him some of the pain pill prescription.  She considers this a minor victory given Mr. Tough Guy's normal hesitation to take anything strong.  However, in the morning we realize the prescription is nothing more than extra strength Tylenol.

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