Peeing in Front of a Little Person and Panamanian “Health Care”
This week’s Ask Jules and Christine question doesn’t come from one particular person, but a question we’ve been asked many times from friends and fellow travelers. It’s hard to pinpoint the absolute weirdest moment we’ve had while traveling, but these are definitely at the top of the list. Enjoy and please send us your travel questions! From the serious to the ridiculous or intrusive. We’ll answer anything!
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“What is your weirdest travel moment?”
Christine: Adventures at a Panamanian hospital
My weirdest travel moment tested both my Spanish skills and my stomach. I was out one night at a hostel in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The hostel was adjacent to the ocean and out back they had cut a hole in the deck to essentially make a swimming pool. At the very bottom of the pool was a shipwrecked boat that had coral growing on it. In the states, this would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. But in Panama? No problem. One of the guys in our group jumped in and cut his foot on the coral. He was bleeding a bit but we didn’t realize how much until we stopped to grab food on the way home. He was leaving a pool of blood trailing down the street and more blood was gushing from his foot. Two police officers came over and demanded that he go to the hospital.
As the only one who spoke Spanish in the group, I was elected to go with him to translate. They sent an “ambulance” which was more of a wooden cart than anything else. Seriously, not even a Band-Aid in sight. At the hospital I used my broken Spanish to explain what happened, as he continued to bleed all over the waiting room. They took us into the clinic and I watched them stitch up his foot without a lick of anesthesia. After they finished, we tried to find a cab to get back to the hostel. The streets were barren of course, as this was about 4 am, so we went back to the hospital. When they saw us coming they locked the doors and wouldn’t let us re-enter. We had to walk back to the hostel in the rain. Thank you Panamanian health care!
Jules: Peeing into a kitchen sink in front of a little person in Uribia, Colombia
Ok, so I know this sounds really weird, but it’s true and I swear it was her idea. We were on our way back from Cabo de la Vela in Northern Colombia, after sitting in a bumpy 4×4 for 5 hours, cramped in with a dozen people, chickens, goats and three desert tortoises, and I was busting for a toilet stop. When we finally stopped in Uribia my first point of call was a toilet. An aging cowboy on the corner directed me to a small restaurant, which ended up being more like a residential house, and I was ushered through the living room and out the back.
Unfortunately all I found out there was what looked like a locked storage cupboard. By this stage I was about to burst. I was just standing around, visibly distressed, when a woman of smaller stature (about 4ft) came up and tapped me on the arm and pointed to a little sink. I asked her if she was serious and she just keep saying si and to go for it. Hesitantly I approached the kitchen sink, as she approached the one next to me and started washing up some dishes. She was standing on an old crate so she could reach the taps, and I was peeing into this little sink as she looked across at me and smiled. I thought I would have got a little stage fright from those watchful eyes, but the sound of running water next to me helped and before I knew it I was thanking her and ducking out the back door. A memorable moment and a reminder that sometimes you just need to go with the flow. No pun intended.