Bolivian hospital and a near death experience

After the ice bucket challenge, I headed to Olivers Tavern once again for a vegetable curry and some vodkas. My stomach was gurgling a bit, but I thought it would go. Once back at the hotel the pain in my stomach was getting worse. Eventually I was sick, but I’m rarely sick from drinking, especially only a few vodkas, and the pain in my gut was telling me something was up. I was sick again, and again, and again. And again. I lost count eventually but the sink was full to the brim with rice and veg, and the shower had took some hammering too, not to mention the toilet.


At 2am I lost patience and knew I had to call a doctor. Reception were very helpful and the doctor turned up within 30 minutes. He listened to my stomach and said ‘it sounds like the French Revolution down there’. Cheers Doc. He rolled me onto my side and injected me in my bum. Immediately I felt the pain go from a 9 to a 3. Hero. As he asked me questions and began to make plans for me to go to the clinic, I felt the sick coming once more, so I shot up, barged past him and let rip in the shower.

To cut a long story short, he drove me to the clinic where I stayed the night, drove me back the next day and gave me a prescription for 4 lots of tablets to ensure my bacterial infections demise. He also gave me a get well soon card, which was a nice touch, but hilarious!

Front of card
Front of card
Lovely message in Spanish!
Lovely message in Spanish!

All for the bargain price of 3,400 Bolivianos. So I had been forced to stay in hospital overnight due to my infection, I was out of pocket big time and to make matters worse it was Sunday, so no pharmacies were open. At least I had Cholitas wrestling to look forward to, and I was being picked up at around 3.30. I waited in reception from 3 til 5, before coming to the realisation that I had been forgotten. What a day.

After breakfast I made a beeline for Kanoo Tours, and the lady was very apologetic and rang Cholitas Wrestling, who said their guide had forgotten me. I was entitled to a full refund and a new VIP ticket for next weeks show. Thankfully I don’t fly to Bogota until Monday. Kanoo had been professional and fair with me from the start, so I opted to book horse riding to Muela Del Diablo with them too.

I left happy and after a walk around local shops I hopped on ‘Mi Telerifico’, which is a cable car system recently installed in La Paz, linking it with El Alto, the city at the top of the mountain (La Paz is in a valley).

View from cable car
View from cable car
View from cable car
View from cable car

I had lunch in El Alto, white rice as per Docs orders. It was stupidly cheap here as there are no tourists or backpackers. I took a nice walk, stopping only to see a nice building and a group of middle aged drunks playing football. It was good to see and they ended up drawing quite a crowd.

Drunken 5 a side
Drunken 5 a side
Can you spot the car accident...
Can you spot the car accident…
Central Station
Central Station
Safety first when it comes to ladders...
Safety first when it comes to ladders…

I went back down the cable car system’s red line (the only one that’s open, when the other 2 open it will be the worlds largest cableway) and went to buy some football tops for my brothers and nephews. They’re really cheap here, so I sent some home.

I ate lunch at Namas Te, a vegetarian place that is tasty and damn cheap. I paid 48 Bolivianos for 2 meals and 2 drinks, and the bread they bring out with a dip for you to enjoy before your meal. I visited the coca museum too, which doesn’t let you take photos. It’s very informative, but some would say not worth the 15Bs entry.

Nice view through an alleyway
Nice view through an alleyway

The next day was the day of my horse riding to Muela Del Diablo, or Devils Tooth. After a lazy morning, I ate at Hotel Calacoto in Zona Sur, which is the meeting point. The food was overpriced but really nice. Just before 2.30pm, I met the guide, Walter. Straight away I knew he was mad, one of those guys with too much energy and an unrivalled zest for life, constantly loud and laughing. I jumped in a cab to the horse ranch, and on the way he told me his nickname is the ‘Crazy Bolivian’. No surprise there. Anyway, we were getting on well, and he took me to meet the horses.

Stables
Stables

I whipped on my riding hat and hopped on. After a few circles practicing with the reins (left, right, faster, slower, please don’t kick me off, etc.) we were ready to hit the mountain track. My horse was relatively well behaved, especially compared to Walters, the only trouble was it loved to walk right at the edge of the track, leaving me staring down drops of anywhere between 10 metres and 1000 metres. Staying calm was the order of the day, as panic just sets the horses off on a mad one.

horseriding (48) horseriding (46) horseriding (36)

The track was uphill but not difficult, a nice ride (for me anyway, Walters horse kept trying to run). We went at a nice pace and took in some great views. We reached the tooth and I chose the quickest route back to the ranch, which Walter informed me was riskier, but I went for it anyway. The path has holes in from the heavy rains that had recently been. We declined steadily and saw more fantastic views.

There was a point on the path where mountain was on the right and a drop on the left. Typically my horse was hugging the left side of the track, narrowly avoiding huge potholes as we went. I was leaning back, as instructed, and taking it slow, when a truck came behind us. I stopped the horse, and was waiting for the truck to pass when Walter shouts ‘No, wrong side! You must be on the mountain side when vehicles pass because the horses back up a little in anxiety!’ Great, if we backed up anymore we’d be goners so I moved the horse to the right side, but we weren’t flush with the mountain, so the horse couldn’t see the truck at all, and as the vehicle approached the horse bolted and just in time Walter grabbed the reins and we had 2 horses side by side, pegging it down a dusty track with a truck in tow. I kept patting the horse saying ‘it’s okay’, trying to get it to slow down. My left leg was now over the ass of Walters horse (was being crushed before) and I was loosening my right foot from the stirrup ready for a jumping escape as we were getting closer and closer to the dangerous edge. Just before we toppled, Walter halted his horse, which in turn halted mine. He told me to get off, so I did, gladly.

The truck passed slowly and we walked the rest of the short distance back to the stables. Food is included, and a 3 hour ride will set you back around 35GBP. I gave my food to my horse once we got back, for not killing me. It was a good experience, and I would recommend it to all riders that are okay with heights, but only the confident should choose the quick way down!

horseriding (49) horseriding (43) horseriding (42) horseriding (40) horseriding (39) horseriding (33)

Patting the horse makes it feel better, apparently
Patting the horse makes it feel better, apparently

horseriding (27) horseriding (26)

The Crazy Bolivian
The Crazy Bolivian

horseriding (18) horseriding (12)

Looking at the tooth
Looking at the tooth

horseriding (7) horseriding (5) horseriding (1)

horseriding (15) horseriding (17)

Unrivalled view
Unrivalled view

horseriding (55)

That night I went to Oliver’s Tavern once again (good food and drink) and ate mash, gravy and veg with a couple of drinks. Baring in mind this was only my 9th day in La Paz, I had already bagged myself 25% discount for being a good customer! Very nice of them.

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