Short Stories
Entry No. 40 December 29, 2004

The Accident

Saying good-bye to Playa Grande and our new acquaintances (who listen to Salt-n-Peppa after a few drinks) is always a bit tough. Passing through was what we did and for some reason, that made it reason enough to celebrate and treat us so well. We shoved off after having a go at a few waves and made it to Santa Cruz a little dusty and hungry on the night of the 27th. On the 28th, after a bike shop stop for some parts and a few tune ups, we headed towards the Pan-American Highway to then head south. We ended up staying at a restaurant just along the side of the road. It was free and their pineapple juice was luscious.

Here is where I made and presented my holiday gift to Susie: a mini STOP sign in Spanish. Although, incorrect, Susie likes to say ¡ALTO! to anyone and anything when she does not like what they are saying or doing. Wednesday, the 29th, was going to be a long day. We had to get to David, Panamá by January 4th and we wanted to stop in Jaco, Quepos, and/or Dominical for some surfing. We hoped to make it to Jaco before night.

All morning I had been cruising in front and as we turned off of the Pan-American to head towards the Costeña as they call it, we switched and Susie went first. We were moving along fine and looking forward to an early afternoon lunch break in Caldera. As we continued through an intersection just outside of Puntarenas, in El Roble, a burgundy Toyota pick up barely passed us when he made a right turn, right into Susie. No blinker and apparently short-term memory.very short term. As I saw her fly over her handlebars out of the corner of my eye, I swerved to miss hitting her and the truck, and turned hard right to get back to her. She had already stood up, so I knew she was conscious, but quickly laid right back down again. I learned in a Wilderness First Responder course that adrenaline can cover any kind of pain an accident victim might have and they are able to do just about anything, for a short period of time. This Acute Shock Reaction (ASR) can last for seconds or minutes before pain sets in or one realizes they have a serious injury, like a broken back. The fact that she sat down so quickly alarmed me, yet it was a good sign if she had broken any bones.

At the same time, the driver didn't seem to think he needed to stop. As I dropped my bike on the side of the road, I yelled like I have never yelled before (and I have a BIG mouth) OYEEEEE, OYEEEEE and that only made his velocity increase as I noted the escaping exhaust billow out of the tailpipe. All of the commotion caused various passers-by to look and some came running to help. Those who saw the truck came forward and said they could identify it, others called an ambulance. I knelt beside Susie and asked what hurt.

Fortunately, there was an employee of the hotel across the street that was a paramedic. He rushed over and checked her out. It was difficult because everyone was asking her questions in Spanish and the last thing Susie wanted to do was practice her Spanish. I translated some of the questions and answers but the paramedic knew enough English to check her skeleton. She slowly sat up, then stood. Every person involved, even though they had no idea who we were, breathed a sigh of relief. The police and medics of the ambulance suggested Susie go to the hospital to get checked out. Costa Rica's National Institute of Insurance would cover the bill.

The truck was found and I went to identify it. I couldn't say for sure it was the truck. I was amazed at what I thought I knew from the scene of the accident but when it came time to identify things, I wasn't so sure. Another hotel employee got the license plate number and Susie went to see it after me and said she was sure it was the car. So, after filling out all of the paperwork for the accident, we gathered the necessary documentation and headed for
the hospital.

Pee bottles with really small openings, blood work, and X-Rays filled our afternoon. Our home for the night would be in El Roble just a ½ of a km from the scene of the accident.

Within 2 days, paperwork was filled out, the bike was fixed, and we were on our way with a few strings to tie up later on. The accident had left some bruises and sore muscles, but we agreed that we got off lucky. Me, especially, for had we not switched and I had continued first, that could have been me.

We thank our lucky stars it was no worse and try even harder to be aware of our surroundings and the conditions. Onward to Panamá, smelling like BENGAY.

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