Well, that was quite a bike tour… since arriving in Chile we´ve had about ten days off the bike and five days on, definitely not the most disciplined bro-trek that´s ever been conceived (not that it´s a bad thing.) We got as far as Chillan, where we stayed with our friend Romina and took a nice side trip to her friend Coti´s beach house in the beautiful area near the town of Cobquecura. The rest of my companions continued south, while a painful and swollen achilles tendon sent me back north on a bus.
Fortunately, I am far from upset because I´ve returned to Valparaiso, the amazingly beautiful and interesting city that I mentioned in my last post.
Once again the amazing Zapata family has come through, and I´m staying with Nico at their apartment while Camila and Pia are in Chillan.
UPDATE January 22
And apparently, I´ve pioneered a new angle in adventure travel-¨injury touring.¨ Basically, injury touring consists of arriving in a foreign land, then suffering as many injuries as possible in your time there. I´ve stepped up my injury tour with a dislocated shoulder and a broken camera courtesy of a scumbag who tried to steal my camera.
The encounter went like this- I was walking in the hills of Valparaiso, camera in hand. I started to walk up a very steep street when an old man waved me over to him. He was trying to walk down the street, but needed my help. So down we went, arm in arm, until suddenly someone snatched my camera strap, which was slung over my shoulder, with the camera under my opposite arm. He took off down the street, and I gave chase. I caught up to him and jumped on his back, managing to get an arm around his neck while screaming curses at him.
He responded by chucking my camera down the street, where it clattered onto the pavement. After a second or two of struggling, he got me off of him, and I landed square on my shoulder, knocking it out of joint. I got up in an adrenaline-fueled daze and ran to pick up my camera and lens (which had come apart in the impact and lay about twenty feet apart) and took off running the 1km or so back to Nico´s house.
Nico called the cops, who whisked us into their van while they drove at ridiculous speeds through the tiny streets, trying to find the culprit. Meanwhile I was gritting my teeth in pain as the van swerved every which way.
Finally they gave up their chase and took me to the hospital, where doctors attempted to wrestle my arm back in place. Unfortunately my muscles were very tense from the pain and it wasn´t happening. So under anesthesia I went while they did the job.
I came to, and was wheeled into a recovery room for a while, then back to the emergency room to wait for a doctor to sign off on my X-rays and send me off. Nico informed me that the doctors decided to waive the fees for all my medical care ¨as a courtesy¨ to me as a tourist (???!?!!?!?!!) Wow, I did not expect that! Apparently they were either moved by my valiant deeds (unlikely) or felt bad for the gringo tonto (stupid gringo) (more likely.) In any case, a mere 9 hours after the incident, Nico and I were walking back to the apartment, my arm in a sling and my head in a cloud.
My camera, although not stolen, is however rather trashed. The battery is lost, the flash is broken, the lens is just a tad cockeyed, and most of the buttons dont´t work… damn. We´ll see what happens, though. The police contacted Nico yesterday, saying they will get a report of the damages and possibly reimburse me for the cost of the camera. I guess Valparaiso does not want to get a bad name among tourists!
I´m not holding my breath for any money, but that would be a great relief.
Despite being a lousy turn of events, I dare say that things could not have gone better given the circumstances. The doctors, police, and especially Nico, were awesomely helpful. It´s safe to say things could have gone much worse.
Hopefully that´s the extent of my injury tour, and I can get back to being a regular old stupid gringo before long.