…and I mean that literally. Unfortunately, my last week in Chile and first week in Buenos Aires, I had a fever and bad cold putting a damper on my travel enthusiasm. Ever since I got off the Navimag boat, I started to feel a sore throat, which later turned into an uncomfortably congested nose, a nice juicy cough, and a sweaty fever. I hadn’t felt this sick in years.
So…once I arrived in Buenos Aires, I was really excited to stay in one place, one hotel, and one bed for a nice ten whole days. No packing and moving. No bumpy buses. No nada.
The first day I met my friend, Mark, from New York and most recently Los Angeles, at our hotel in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires. We decided I should seek out a doctor and get some antibiotics or something to kick this thing in the ass.
I have a travel medical insurance policy, so the first thing I had to do was call them to let them know and to have them recommend a local doctor who possibly spoke English, although after being sick a week, I was getting pretty good at describing my symptoms en Espanol. We went into a ‘telefonica’ shop where they have private tiny rooms where you can make phone calls. Supposedly, with my insurance company, I could call them collect when outside of the US. But making a collect call proved to be the tricky part. I couldn’t seem to get an Argentinean or American operator on the line. We even had the helfpful manager go to AT&T’s website to see what the number was to call from Argentina which was nowhere to be found on the wallet card I had.
Finally, I got through to the insurance folks and they had me on hold for about 30 minutes as they tried to call a doctor who was available, who was taking new patients, and who spoke English. Tall order. This whole process was becoming increasingly frustrating and was making me feel even worse. The mousy-voiced woman on the other end of the phone finally returned to the line and said she had no luck and could call me back.
“Call me back?” I exclaimed, “But, you understand I’m in Argentina. I don’t have a phone. I’m sitting in a tiny booth and have been on hold with you for thirty minutes while you ‘tried’ to get a doctor.” I surmised she was just eating her lunch from Arby’s while I was on hold. We decided she would email me a list of doctors and their addresses.
Then out of desperation I just decided to ask the guys at the desk if they knew of a doctor in the area that could possibly help a sad, sick Americano. A customer at the counter started asking me what was wrong and starting peppering me with questions regarding my symptoms. She asked for a pen and paper and began scribbling down the names of drugs I should take. She mentioned something about working for a dentist. Okay, I guess that’s close enough. One of the meds was Amoxicillin, an antibiotic I’ve taken many times before. It seemed like something I could use and thought maybe this is all the doc would prescribe anyway.
She insisted on taking us to the pharmacy. For a tiny woman, she walked awfully fast as we hoofed it down the street to the nearest pharmacy. Once inside we went back and forth with the young man behind the counter. But mostly he and she went back and forth about the pills I should take. I finally ended up with a box of Amoxicillin with some kind of bronchial medicine included in it for $10. Cheap and no prescription necessary. I thanked her several times for her unexpected and much appreciated gesture. And off she went—my medicine angel. Wow. I heard people were nice here, but that was incredible. Now, I just have to wait and see if these pills do the trick…if not, I guess I will be back to the phone place to find a doctor again in a few days…or hopefully just another super friendly patron.