Frustration in Peru: An Update from Phil
I fell off my bike. We got some owies.
From getting an xray “just in case” to having surgery 4 hours later. Five days in the hospital. But I have been through this before.
In 2010 I broke my other collar-bone playing ultimate. That cost me over a year off work. After 7 months, and several misdiagnosis and complications, I had surgery for my right collar-bone. That left me with a plate and 11 screws holding all the pieces together. That plate is still there. The memory of all the frustration remains as well. Sadly, while highly offset by incredible kindness and hospitality of strangers, the frustration would be repeated this break too.
After an extra couple days in hospital warding off concern of infection, I finally was discharged from the Victor Paredes Clinic. This allowed me out just in time for Jayne and I to accompany Kelly to the airport. After the continued push to get to Macchu Picchu before having to fly home, in the end Kelly didn’t even make it. There was an option to take a bus, but with road rash dressings to change, depressive memories of the crash lingering and a generally sombre mood; the mantra ofÂ “nuts to Machu Picchu” was repeated often by all of us (something along those lines anyways).
Not a great ending to a fantastic three months with Kelly as guest star on the Ultimateride. She is heavily missed.
In Lamay we stayed camping on the porch for 5 days. Each day we would wake to a glorious setting. It’s not called the sacred Valley for nothing. During our stay, I was able to tear down Jugs to find out all her problems.Â We were heartily fed and Sandra, also a nurse, helped pull my stitches and provided me with some bandages for my wounds. This all worked wonders for a man in recovery. The bike in recovery, however, was about to drop a bomb: Jugs had bent her frame.
The smashed dials I was able to repair with pop bottles, though the tachometer is dead with its chip board shattered. The handlebars were bent, and being aluminum would need replacing. My airbox was smashed by the right pannier, and would need some creative repairs to seal it back up. The pannier boxes and rack would also need some welding love. These things I could do all with just an arm and a half, but the frame…
The frame needed more skills and strength than I possess. In Canada or the States, the labour costs would likely be prohibitive. But in Peru, and much of Latin america, labour is cheap. They can, and do, fix everything. Still, this bent frame discovery had me a bit bummed.
Henry the mechanic, a friend of a friend, came out the next day to inspect jugs. A solid 2.5 hour round trip unpaid. Not often you get mechanic house calls! Henry said he could fix the frame for around 300 soles, (120$). I just had to get the bike to his shop in Cusco. This proved to be a pain, since Sandy’s truck was in use for their NGO. After a frustrating no-show of one truck, and searching town to town in the rain, I found a pickup to take Jugs to Cusco for 70 soles (about 30$).
All this time my shoulder has felt remarkably good. I have close to full range of motion, and little pain. If I felt any discomfort while doing anything, I would just stop. I felt confident my shoulder would be ready before Jugs would. The doctor had told me I might be able to ride within two-three weeks of discharge.
I awaited the bike to be ready settled in at Tania and Philippes. When the day came for a test ride, my bike worked great, but my shoulder… my shoulder hurt. Plain and simple. It had been feeling so good the whole time leading up, but on the two-hour test ride to the valley and back: it hurt. Nuts.
I went for an xray to see if there was a reason for this new-found discomfort. There was. Not only was my clavicle not healing, the pins had shifted, no longer holding the pieces as closely together.
Incredibly frustrated, I self-imposed my arm in a sling. Something I should have had for a while after the hospital really… And something they charged my insurance for, but never provided me with. Regardless, my healing timeframe was now back at square one.
I discussed with Jayne that she should go on without me. My healing could complicate further, and she could end up waiting a lot of time for nothing. After christmas and meeting all the boys, the time was right and with the right people.
One of the shifted pins was bothersome. I went in to have the doctor do something about it, and he torqued on it through my skin with his thumb. Hard. This moved the pin a bit, and nearly moved me to the floor from the pain. But in the end it didn’t help, and still left me with a skin tent on my shoulder.
The pin was destined to come out I would see. The jagged, rough tip had been gouging at my skin from the inside for a month and a half. What kind of surgeon leaves that kind of saw-tip on a pin?!!
Once Jayne left in late December, I started to work at a hostel to pass the time. I had partied at Loki hostel with Jordan and Josh over christmas, and figured it would be a fun way to pass the time. Working the bar with one arm in a sling, it was a great time indeed.
I worked at Loki Cusco for about two weeks, then took a trip to Salta for the Dakar. I didn’t get to see the race like I wanted to at Dakar, so will have to make another trip another year.
I stayed in Salta for about two weeks, working in the Loki located there. I wanted a couple of weeks at a lower elevation to get some more oxygen to my bones. The strategy worked, my follow-up x-ray in Salta showing some signs of healing. The doctor also recommended removing the pins. That would require insurance company approval, but for now, after over a month in restraint I could escape from my sling.
I would have stayed in Salta longer, but I had to return to Peru to deal with my expiring temporary import permit for Jugs. There is a process to have your permit “suspended” (like being put on pause) when you leave the country, to resume on your return, but my attempt at getting that suspension was thwarted by corrupt police. They wanted 90 soles for a document that should cost 7, and I wouldn’t pay. Tania’s uncle even works at the police station, and even that didn’t save me from the pigs. Corruption with public officials in Peru is deep, and no dealings with the police go well here.
My attempts at getting an extension through customs was fruitless. It turns out there is simply NO way to extend a temporary import permit in Peru. The penalty for overstaying: you lose your bike.
Mere days out of the sling I was left with no choice, so I rode Jugs to the Bolivian border. An 1100km round trip.
It was fantastic to ride again. Jugs rode well, and I met up with another rider Ian for the second day of the trip.
On the journey, Jugs hit 100 000km on the odometer.
It was pretty special. There was a time I thought I would never get to see that moment. I was back on the road again. Jugs was running. My arm was working. Life was back as it should be.
The border was quick. I bought the aduana agent “lunch” to avoid physically having to leave the country for a day, as the rules state. I don’t mind paying bribes when I’m the one breaking the rules.
Back in Cusco, I again worked at Loki while doing rehab exercises for my shoulder. The hostel work kept me sane as I waited for time to pass, and the discounts and free meals helped to keep my budget afloat too. After a week or so, after my last shift, I lost it one night when a new staff member stole a girls phone. I was intoxicated, and after both Jayne’s phone and mine were stolen (along with countless others from guests at the hostel), I have lost all tolerance for thieves. Hitting the guy in the face wasn’t my place, and I shouldn’t have done it, but he certainly was deserving. My general frustrations with life were coming to a front.
Things were smoothed over before I left a few days later, but I didn’t really leave Cusco on a high note. This whole trip Jayne and I have generally left places when we still want to stay, “leaving while on top”. My departure from Cusco was certainly leaving on the bottom.
I am now in La Paz, Bolivia, and ecstatic to be back on the road again. My frustration has waned. You can’t have the sweet without the sour.
Uploading photos is a constant struggle with slow internet connections and no resizing software. I am computer-less and using internet cafes. I’ll post some stories of the past couple months as I am able to. There are some fun ones. For now, I’ve just received approval from my insurance company to have my bothersome pins removed. So that will be the next step. Where I do that I’m not sure yet, but I need to get moving south. Winter is coming.