Ugly, lovely, good, bad… whenever I return from a trip I know I’ll be asked these questions. From colleagues and friends.
I have been most fortunate to be able to travel the world since my work as a travel and fashion writer have given me that opportunity.
Answer…I have enjoyed and un enjoyed but learned much even from despondent countries. Yes, it has often been difficult seeing how some poor nations must live. But the luxury I have had served up on platinum trays makes me realizes how lucky I have been and also how I can help with those less fortunate.
However, there is one ‘back’ story which I’ve never written about and who knows, may be sued for spilling the beans. And it isn’t about my back but about a situation that happened the first day of my arrival on an island near Nassau, Bahamas.
Me and a few other writers had been invited to a Club Med in the Bahamian Island of Columbus.
After the welcome drink, non-alcoholic for me please, we were about to be shown our rooms for the next few days.
My assignment was for Dreamscapes, a very good magazine which is really made up of advertorials. (You buy an ad and, voila, there’s an article). But that is how many stay in print.
It was a sunny, but very windy day and on those days shiny painted steps are slippery and should be swept several times like every hour. However, since from the start, this hotel seemed to be managed by young hip, cool young people all seemingly under 30 or perhaps just over, no one took that job seriously.
The light was perfect for photos that I wanted for my article. I stopped to snap a few and then heard the leader of our small group shout and tell me to hurry up. For what, I wondered? So I ran and naturally with the fine sand and shiny painted steps to the path, I fell. I heard the crack.
I knew I had broken a bone.
Call the doctor, please, I told one of the staff members. It seemed that the MD was too tired from watching for any scuba diver incidents that morning to see me. Too tired? What an answer from a woman, me, who was married to a MD and whom I hardly saw since patience seemed to be number one.
So then I tried General Manager who had been on holiday and this was his first day back. He too, was too tired and besides, he told me that he had the day off so he didn’t want to come.
A young male nurse, sweet, tiny, freighted touch to my uplifted leg now on a chair. He touched, almost fainted, paled and said, I think it’s just a small sprain. How could he have recommended this with the limited knowledge? In my mind, not knowing the circumstances or who knows what, I could only think that 7 steep, slippery, steps wasn’t adequate for this diagnosis.
The rest of our small group was shown to their rooms on the second floor and knowing I was in pain I suggested a first floor accommodation which turned out to be dark, and dingy but I wasn’t concerned about the room as I was worried about my leg.
There wasn’t a clinic or X-ray machine in this chic Club Med so I insisted on getting to the nearest island clinic. The nurse was so very knowledgable and told me that I should be taken to the main island and see a credible doctor.
This was taken quite lightly since nothing seemed to have penetrated and there I was in this truly awful room with no one to even get me a glass of water. Forget food. I probably wouldn’t have kept it down since the pain worsened. One of the women from the travel group did come and assist in getting meals and a walker for washroom necessities.
Finally, on the third day, like a miracle, an ambulance plane was waiting to take me to Nassau, about an hour away, An ambulance was waiting and soon I was with in a private hospital and a bon vide doctor. X-ray taken and the pronouncement of a broken ankle and foot didn’t come as surprise. The old time heavy plaster cast for which I paid $3000, was placed up to the knee. I am delighted that this MD didn’t operate since it was so badly fractured that when I finally arrived back in Canada, 10 days later (there wasn’t a direct flight until then), and since I was an ‘out: patient I had to decide on a hotel that had a wheel chair. Bad things often had happy episodes and although the hotel had a restaurant, they did not have room service. Go figure that out. But I had the most wonderful housekeeper who brought my meals and when she wasn’t there, she had one of her staff connect with me. I certainly didn’t have much of an appetite but also would not have starved. The Bahamians are the kindest people. Again the room cost and food was placed on my credit card.
Back home and after a 3.1/2 hour operation and a newer, lighter cast, I was bedded for over two month.
So now to the insurance. I was told that the Chinese owned properties would not pay anything . “Get a Bahamian lawyer” is was told by the four Canadian lawyers it called. And like everything in Bahamas, the lawyers are very, very expensive. I had phoned on the day of the incident. My travel insurance company said I didn’t have a policy. I had just taken it out, but then these companies aren’t ready to spend any money on bringing me home.
Finally home, had a 3 ½ long operation, comfortable, I knew that Club Med Inc. had just been bought for several billion dollars. But they refused any contact with me. It had to be with a Bahaman lawyer. Not the publisher, or editor of Dreamscapes, the magazine, took any responsibility. I received nothing. I had upgraded myself to first class since I had to keep my leg raised the entire trip.
Now, five years later, I know that the future holds a limp forever due to the time lapse of the operation. I can’t walk more than 4000 steps while I started off at a few steps at the rehab where I had to go to after my operation.
And I wrote the assigned article for the magazine which was published by being pushed by one of the small travel group. Saw the resort, the boutique, and received remarks from other guests. No thanks to that Club Med.
MY TIP is to check with all the all-inclusive resorts regarding on-site doctors or nurses, X-ray machines, either on site or very nearby.
After 5 years, I feel that I can tell the ‘back story’ of a nightmare trip. And make sure that travel insurance includes flights home and be more insistent with the insurance company and speak to a certified travel manager.