I still recall that grey walls of the small emergency room at Clinica Santa Cruz de la Loma in San Gil. Maybe they were actually meant to be white, thus years of usage had turned them greyish. I can recall the black plastic chairs. One attached to the other. The hours of waiting. I still recall putting my hands on the counter. Feeling dizzy… and then; BANG!
Next thing, I was on the floor. A man was holding my head up from touching the floor, and a lot of emergency staff looking worried at me. This is my story of how Colombia taught me that I’m a city girl and my example of why you should always get a travel insurance.
Before I left Denmark, I was fed up with exam stress, delayed trains and the never-ending list of things to do. For my month of traveling in Colombia, I wanted something completely different.
Something away from the city life. Something that would give me an inside on how other people live their life differently than mine. I wanted to try the life on a farm.
Mosquitos and suchlike bugs find me no matter where I am
I found this little farm in the region of Santander in the middle of nothing and organized a stay with them. I was supposed to stay for two and a half weeks. However, I only managed a week… Then, my legs were filled with small red and itchy bugs bites.
The housing offered at the farm was primitive without electrics and water in most parts of the house – and without proper windows or doors (pictures below). Hence, free entrance for all kinds of insects. At the beginning, I did not take them for more than mosquito bites. Normally, I easily get bites. However, every morning there were more, and the ones from the day before had turned terribly red and painful. They hurt when I walked and did not look any good. Thus, the fighter I am, I did not complain.
Thus, when we headed to the nearby village, Charalá, on our first day off. In Charalá, I finally got signal on my phone and opted for calling my travel insurance for a piece of advice. Only three nights had passed since I arrived at the farm, but the answer was loud and clear: go to a doctor first thing Monday morning.
Even doctors order me to stay in the cities
That was how I ended there in the small emergency room with the grey-maybe-meant-to-be-white walls. Waiting. And waiting. Until a doctor finally called out my name.
He looked suspiciously at me when I showed him my legs covered in around 30 terrifyingly red bites on each and asked where I was staying. When I answered that I was staying out by Cascadas de Juan Curi, he shook his head and answered that I was clearly not the kind of person to stay in the middle of the forest. Actually, he would recommend me to move away from there as soon as possible and rest for at least 3 days while on antibiotics.
The worse to come
There I was in a foreign country’s hospital with legs attacked by some sort of insect and not feeling well at all. Thus, what I was not prepared for, was the injection. Even though the nurses were nice, and carefully explained what was going to happen, my body was not prepared at all.
The injection felt a lot worse than it is meant to, properly due to dehydration and hours in a crowed waiting-room. I managed to get to the reception to pay my bill. And then… BANG!
I had fainted in the middle of the emergencies waiting room. It had only been for a couple of seconds, but they wouldn’t let me go after that. The nurses insisted on keeping me for observation and called for a bed. I was transported to a small room with two elderly men and their relatives.
There I sat for the next couple of hours until the other volunteer from the farm came and picked me up. Gosh, I was so thankfully for her because without her I wouldn’t have been able to pay the hospital fee since the cashier was in another building, but I was forced to stay with a drop in my hand in the emergency room – not so smart a system, Colombia!
Don’t forget your travel insurance
My travel insurance did not only pay my hospital fees and the antibiotics. They also agreed to pay three nights in a private room and all my food during these days. However, apart from that most travel insurances have professional nurses or doctors available for helping you whenever something happens.
So, do yourself the favor and make sure you have a travel insurance before you head out to explore the world. You shouldn’t go down on the treatment that you need just because you don’t have money for it. Apart from that, travel insurances tend to cover much more than just the simple hospital fee. Check out more tips on mistakes not to make when choosing a travel insurance here.
My smart idea of trying out something else than my city life was pretty much a failure, and Colombia taught me I’m a city girl and properly should stick to one-day trips out in nature. But, this is also the perfect example of why we should remember to get a travel insurance because boarding new adventures.
Have you ever tried ending up in a local hospital when traveling? How did they treat you? Share your story in the comments below
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