3/24/19 – 3/29/19
As things would happen, Soph got the call from Uncle Sam to take her citizenship exam a few weeks back. We’d heard good things about San Cristobal and decided that it would be the right place for me to setup base for a few weeks while she returned to the states. The first morning in town, I went to a grocery store. Not a tienda, a grocery store. The thirty thousand square foot sort. I bought milk constructed completely of non-dairy ingredients, clover honey, and vegetables that said “pre-washed” as if I need not worry about food born parasites.
I had posted on the RAC message board that I was looking for an English speaking doctor in town. Nobody knew of one, but a woman named Abril said she could accompany me and translate. She was staying at a hostel around the corner from our place so we agreed to meet one night. She was all of five feet tall and towing a sixty pound Dalmatian behind her bike. Her plan was to be in Argentina in three years. The dog was only a puppy and I could tell it would put on another ten to twenty pounds by then.
We chatted about health care in our respective countries. I tried to explain the current change in consumer preferences and the need for the medical system to evolve from an illusory bureaucratic shit show into a more transparent and metrics driven system that simultaneously recognizes a more informed consumer without assuming that each person is an expert in health sciences or the value stream of the health care system as a whole. My Spanish skills however limited me to saying, "Es un grande juego para robar su dinero." (It is a big game to steal your money).
As it turned out, the doctor had studied in the states and spoke decent English. Abril had already accompanied me to his office though and hung around for moral support. I’d prepared a detailed spreadsheet of days I’d been sick, medications I’d been on, and the various symptoms I’d experienced. He seemed simultaneously impressed and disinterested. He put me on the table and tapped on my stomach a few times.
“Gas,” he said, “this is the sound of gas.”
He prescribed another round of antibiotics. I tried to explain that I’d been down this path.
“Confieme,” he said.
I didn’t trust him. After some back and forth we agreed that a comprehensive stool test was in order. He gave me a little jar and a map to a lab on the other side of town.
“What did you call American medical system last night?” Abril asked as we walked back.
“Una pelicula de mierda,” which more or less means “shit show.”
“Ahh, Mexico es igual.”
Meanwhile, Soph had been researching where to find French pastries. Our Airbnb hosts had a healthy addiction to fine coffee and she did not let this go unspoiled.
“Sometimes I like to pour a cup of coffee just to smell it,” Juan Carlos told me. Their place was swanky and cozy. The sort of loft you’d expect a photographer and social media maven to have, which is what he and Larissa were.
We took to the streets to find the pastries.
“Mind if we take a detour?” I asked.
“Sure, what for?”
“I just have to deposit a little pastry at the lab.”
We had coffee and croissants with bits of local chocolate in them. Then we gave the bikes a good washing. I went back to the lab to get my results.
“Es como navidad!” (“It’s like Christmas!”) I said to the woman behind the counter when she gave me the envelope with my results. I wondered what it could be as I opened it. A viral parasite? Giardia??? Anticlimactically, everything seemed to be negative. I took it straight to the doctor.
“The antibiotics damaged your system.”
“So now what?”
“More antibiotics,” I laughed as he said this, “and then some probiotics.”
The next day I was cleaning our chains and checking our brakes. I gave my front wheel a spin and noticed it didn’t feel right. I removed it from the frame and held the hub in my hands and spun it again. There was a clicking and grinding. There was also an unreasonable amount of play. Jim had noticed it doing this in Tucson when he worked on it, but it was much worse now.
I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to get a replacement as it was still under warranty. I convinced the dealer in the states to send the new one to Utah immediately with the promise that Soph would send the damaged one back once she was on the ground there. She would then bring it when she returned to San Cristobal. I couldn’t really be left without a wheel for two weeks though. This is where having twenty six inch rims comes in handy. Good luck finding a quality wheel, but if you need a spare to get you by for a bit, you can get a brand new one hand-built for twenty bucks. The shop probably won’t have a truing stand, but it will roll more or less.
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