This may be a longer blog than usual since so much has happened in the past week....
After traveling for awhile you start bumping into some of the same people that you have met in other parts of the country. So it wasn't too surprising for me that I bumped into Marcel and Marianne in Banos. I had spent a week with them on the Nemo in the Galapagos Islands three weeks ago. It was fun catching up over dinner one night. Reminds us of how small a world that we all live in.
This past Monday, I hopped on the bus to Riobamba. I luckily arrived during the annual independence day celebration of Riobamba. The streets were filled with food vendors and beer stands. Its was pretty much an all day party and a great end to a bus ride. I spent the afternoon walking around taking in all the sights. Kids walking around with cotton candy and the usual boardwalk games. Although some of the games had an interesting twist, they had a ring toss game where adults could win bottles of hard liquor. Why hasn't this idea caught on the US? Fueled with some liquid courage I tried to win a bottle of tequila for several minutes without success. Oh well.
I decided to mountain bike the next day with a tour group down the slopes of Chimborazo. Chimborazo is the highest peak/volcano in Ecuador. Here is an interesting factoid: It is reported that you are actually closer to the sun on Chimborazo than on the top of Mt Everest because of the equatorial bump. Could come in handy if any of you manage to get on Jeopardy.
The mountain biking guide, Galo was a great tour guide as well. He explained tons of the local history as we drove up the volcano. We passed many vicuna on the way up. Vicuna are a small relative of the llama and alpaca. Extremely prized for the warmest wool of any animal.
We reached the climbing hut at 4800m (almost 16,000ft) and took a quick photo of myself with Flat Stanley.
Biking down was great. The top sections were somewhat snow covered but extremely fun. On the easiest section of the trail we had been on that day, I somehow lost control of my bike and went over the handlebars. My entire body weight came down on my right shoulder. Ouch!! Quickly sat up but couldn't manage to move my right arm at all. Galo quickly assessed me and we decided to go to the hospital in Riobamba.
With Galo providing the interpretation, the emergency room doctor explained that I had broke my shoulder and torn the ligaments in three different places. The docs only english words were "piano key". He liked to say this phrase while pushing a bone down on my shoulder and watching the bone spring back up just like a piano key. After doing this to me twice, my spanish lessons kicked in and I told him to stop doing that. Funny how fast your mind translates when you are in pain. Took an xray and determined that I required a surgical fix. The doctor highly recommended me to not have it done in Ecuador. They secured my arm across my chest with about 100 yards of gauze and tape and sent me on my way with a fistful of painkillers in a plastic baggie.
Here is a photo of my xray for the courious types:
Spent the late afternoon taking care of logistics, calling family back home and packing my stuff one-handed. Maria at my hostel arranged a taxi to pick me up at midnight and take me fours hours to the airport in Quito in time for my flight the next morning back to Houston. It was really amazing how strangers in Ecuador, family and friends all stepped up to help me get back home. I also had a healthy dose of divine interventation. At some point during the evening I realized that the painkillers from the hospital were just a south america version of Tylenol, no wonder my pain was not going away. I would have been better off drinking a six pack of beer!
I flew home on Wednesday morning and was pleasantly suprised to find that I was upgraded to first class, yeehaw. Managed to get my only sleep in two days on the flight. I assumed that I was upgraded because of my pain, my frequent flyer status or they just knew who I was A couple of days later I learned that a special angel helped out and upgraded me. Many, many thanks!!
Stepped of the plane in Houston exactly 24 hours after I fell off the bike in Ecuador. My brother Mark picked me up at the airport and had already scheduled an appointment with a surgeon for me that afternoon. The surgeon diagnosed it as an AC 2nd or 3rd degree seperation. He suggested that we give it four - eight weeks before commiting to any surgery to see if my shoulder would heal by itself correctly. I have a second opinion scheduled for Tuesday, April 29th with a shoulder specialist. I would appreciate everyones thoughts and prayers.
On the positive side, I am back in the states to heal. Have access to email and my cell phone
Feel free to catch up with me either by phone or email:
Another positive about my accident is that it allowed me to hand deliver Flat Stanley back to my niece, Maddie, in time for the end of her school year.
I'll update my blog sometime this next week with the latest information.
The Road Goes on Forever and The Party Never Ends....It's just back in the States for now!!!