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SV Panta Rhei Retirement Trip
An accident sends us in search of emergency medical care
Larry Nelson
27 March 2011 | San Blas, Mexico
We managed the trip from Chacala without incident, including the difficult and shallow portion into the marina at San Blas. We arrived about 12:30 pm local time and determined that the marina office wasn't open. Later we remembered that it was Sunday and that they wouldn't be available until Monday. But, for the wrong reasons, we decided to have lunch aboard and then recheck the marina office to settle our slip fees before going into town. Karen suggested hamburgers, something I like a lot. It was too windy to barbeque them so Karen fried them. She elected to throw the grease and hamburger leavings over for the fish instead of putting them down the drain. Somehow she missed placing her foot on the back transom of the boat, causing her to fall into the backstay. This sort of thing happens all the time. We call them "boat bites". But this time Karen took a huge chunk of skin off her left arm. Skin turns out to be pretty thick, and incidentally include fat. These are things I know but would rather not see. This was one ugly wound.

We left immediately for the marina office where an employee (Miguel) volunteered a pickup truck to take us into the hospital. The hospital didn't have any doctors at its emergency care clinic. They would come in half an hour (but this is Mexico so you can't take that too seriously). There was an urgent care facility about a block and a half away. We got there just as Ricardo, the doctor, was coming back from lunch. He didn't speak any english but he set about caring for Karen with practiced ease. Without an assistant he managed the entire setup, procedure, and clean up. I've posted a few pictures. He did all the steps that we would see in the United States and we were in the right place. His tool sets were sterilized and ready and prepackaged. He had the anticeptic and irrigation water. He used a wastebasket for the collection of the runoff. It was instant care. Cost? nothing. We ended up giving him some money for the antibotics and pain medications that he provided to us before we left. We volunteered it, it was not required. Paperwork? none at all. Miguel waited for us outside in the truck and took us back to our boat. I wonder what would have been his experience if this same accident happened to him when he was visiting the US? Another thing to realize is that this is a LITTLE, IMPOVERISHED town. This is NOT a resort community. It is famous only for its no see um's. The community gives BASIC a new level of understanding. Yet everyone here is friendly and helpful. There is a theft problem (which is why we are at the marina) which tends to keep cruisers away. So there aren't a lot of gringo's here.

It took about an hour total before Karen was resting in bed on the boat. Larry walked back to town and brought home a lobster dinner for her. (3 large lobsters were $350 pesos, about $30 USD).

Tomorrow we will take the jungle river tour. they say it is the thing that must be done here.