The last 24 hours in Pisco

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January 2nd 2008
Published: January 2nd 2008
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Ok, this one you'll never believe.

So Paul (one of the four Hardcore Ica Classroom Builders who I am travelling round Colombia with) and I were planning to leave on Saturday morning, early, to meet Kristina at Lima airport before flying out to Iquitos to meet John, on the start of New Year Odyssey down the Amazon to Colombia. Everyone in in Pisco was having a quiet one, which suited me just fine, watching films and such like, so it was just the old timers having a quiet bevvy at the Cock in Box (a little man who opened a beer and chocolate and hamburger and random stuff shop in his temporary shelter, as opposed to Maria, the lovely lady who owns the Dog and Duck round the corner from HODR HQ). Quiet, close, I didn´t even give a leaving speech, scurrying off to avoid the stares of random strangers who persisted in asking me How long I´d been in Pisco?

Paul had started a wee bit earlier on the beers, and was steaming, as they say up north of the border. I went to bed at about midnight, excited and ready to leave Pisco after 3 months, and feeling sad to leave Pieter, Tim and Suzi, pretty much the only 3 left that I knew from the early days, from the 400 or so volunteers who have passed through Pisco. Paul, however, wanted a night to remember, so continued drinking with Tim and Antonio before going to the bathroom...And never returning.

I, meanwhile, was sound asleep in my bed in HODR 2. I awoke at about 4.45 and went to the toilet, and realised that Paul had sent me a message ...

"In a bit of a fix. Seem to have landed myself in hospital. Can you come translate?".

Of course, I phoned him immediately and inquired as to the problem. "Um, I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I think, yeah, I think I've been stabbed. Do you want to speak to the nurse?"

I jumped in the first taxi I could find at 5am, filled with the stench of vomit emitted from an effete English speaking teenager, who then "couldn't find his money", making me offer to pay in my haste to get to the hospital.

I arrived and raced through Urgencias, coming across Paul hooked up to a drip with a bloody t-shirt. However, I was reassured immediately that he was going to be all right, as he wouldn´t stop talking despite my best efforts to shut him up. He was still pissed, naturally.

It seems the night had ended as follows...

He jumped into a taxi after relieving himself, and asked (in perfect Spanish) to be taken to Pisco Disco. He was promptly whisked off to some club in the centre of town, 2 minutes' walk from Plaza de Armas. "Oh, I said I'd meet Jose" he thought, "But this isn't the right disco, and I'm all alone. Och well, I'll go in anyway...".

After a some dancing and even more drinks, he noticed that some Peruano was walking off with his jacket, to which he replied,

"Disculpe, señor. Yo creo que este es mi chaqueta, y no suyo. ¿Puede devolvermelo?"

There ensued a little tussle, where he discovered that he had been robbed, but at least managed to get his jacket back. Unfazed and focused as ever, he returned to the bar to start again, whereupon the barman started to repeatedly ask him if he was all right, if he was REALLY all right. "What? Of course I'm all right" he replied before following the direction of the barman's frantic gesticulations. As he looked down, he noticed a dark stain spreading from his abdomen, across his HODR t-shirt. "Oh, crap, I've spilt some coke on myself", he thought, before lifting up his shirt to discover the stain was in fact blood pumping from a stab wound.

Indeed, the Weedgie had been stabbed. The barmen quickly got some towels to press on his wound before walking him down to the policia tent in Plaza de Armas, where they left him, saying they found him walking back to Pisco Playa, a blatant lie which then went onto the police statement. The police then drove him another 2 minutes down the road to the hospital, and he was rushed into Urgencias.

He was on the slowest drip I have ever seen, and I stayed with him more or less for the next 12 hours, speaking Spanish to the nurses and doctors and trying to translate (it seems Paul's Spanish is limited to metaphysical debate rather than medical know-how). There was some poking around done by the doctor in the wound, which was deemed to be superficial, a little like the puncture of a screwdriver, about 5mm in width and 10mm deep. We were joined by other volunteers a little later, who were also on drips for diarrhoea, and followed the very long and arduous labour pains of the lady in the corner who must have been in for a good 15 hours and still not delivered by the time we left. There was an anorexic girl, a fat woman, a woman wrapped up like a mummy, all on saline drips. I was feeling left out, and hungry...fantasising about the chip stir fry for lunch.

A little while after, the pain was unbearable "like severe and explosive trapped wind" I believe. "You've been stabbed. Have you been stabbed before? No? Well, then, stop complaining and ride it out" was the gist of my response.
But I told the doctor and she suggested an ultrasound to find any internal bleeding, to which Paul agreed. "But we don't have a machine. It was broken in the earthquake". Ah.I enquired whether there was any ultrasound machine in Pisco which I could source, being resourceful and used to dealing with Ken's requests for Ica project necessities. I was about to go flying around town to ask all the doctors I could when someone suggested the Cuban Doctors, who run a medical centre in tents in a Salvation Army refugee compound. So I flew there instead.

The first response I got was " I don't understand a word you are saying in Spanish.". The second was "We don't do things like that." On persistence, I got "They should have come to us 10 hours ago. A stab wound is very very serious. We might be lucky. He might make it in time. But you never know. The knife could have gone in any direction, you never know. We can't rule out any possibility. It might be too late already". Left with this charming bedside manner I got Pisco hospital to bring Paul to them in one of their ambulances. The ultrasound revealed no internal bleeding but what to me looked like a liver with black spots on. Slow cirrhosis, ok. No internal bleeding, fine.

He was discharged soon after, and we returned to base.

So, this week of festivities for the volunteers, there have been 3 robberies at knifepoint, one assault and robbery, and one stabbing. An interesting run-up to New Year, no? Are we glad to be out of there? Hell yes. Leave the buggers to it. Hedonism from now on. You get kicked in face for this altruism.

So we're here in Iquitos with Kristina and John, getting a boat and possibly dysentry up the Amazon, but not till Wednesday and maybe meeting some more old-timers up in Cartagena. Happy New Year to all! I'll be having a beer and popping some anti-malarials and thinking of you all...


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