Much as I love the flat lands and and the beaches, from time to time the Cordillera calls.  I get itchy feet and my fave are road trips.  Everyone who knows me well can attest to that.  Ridiculously, my favourite road trips are in the Dominican Republic.  I love driving where the cane grows tall and you can see train cars waiting for their loads, or where the cacti absorb the sun and iguanas sunbathe, or to the mountains and their rivers.  Dominican highways are very serviceable and this country boasts several new routes.  These with their toll booths can be very expensive, but the older roads have no tolls.  The new highways though efficient for travel are also very boring.  They bypass all the little towns.  Those old roads can be a little rough as in some places the pavement is questionable.  Taking the trunk routes is far more entertaining.  You can stop for lunch at small comedors for authentic food at very reasonable prices or take a dip in a stream.  Take a break, have a light beer and shoot a game of billiards.  Trunk roads?  Well, these, are the true cultural experience.  When there’s no time limit, nor specific destination, you have all the time in the world to enjoy!

I like being the passenger.  Simply sitting feeling the air rush by my face makes me feel free.  As a passenger, I have few worries.  I can concentrate on the beauty around me.  Take a few fotos, hang on to the dog, and plain enjoy the vistas.  I’m not fond of driving the bike.  With a passenger its 500+ lbs of mean machine.  Nope, don’t like driving with a passenger.  Flying solo?  Frankly, I’ld rather walk. Walking gives me the exercise I need and I don’t need shoulder strength, which, is limited at best.  A jaunt to the store on my own, yea, maybe.  But the freedom of being a passenger … that … is pure heaven!

May 30, 2014, was one such day.  This found my feet itchy and dying to get out of the house.  So off we went.  Normally we take Maxi with us.  She’s a “Chipin” we rescued.  She loves to ride.  This time, we opted to leave my pocket pooch at the house.  After driving for a while through many pueblos, we got into the mountain curves.  We never go fast.  We plod along at a gentle speed cautiously picking our way through potholes and loose gravel on the pavement.  Safety is always paramount.  Then, there it was, the guagua.  Brazenly forging it’s way in the passing lane around a car on the winding mountain road … right at a curve painted with solid “NO REBASE” lines and signs.  With the hairpin turns there’s good reason for those lines.  Vision is completely obscured.  On the other side of the mountain curve … us, on our passola.  More evidence of inept Dominican drivers that have zero respect for human life or rules of the road.  Problem … here … no rules that they follow.  Now to be fair, there are some very responsible drivers here but I see all too often, many times a day for that matter, those that truly should be incarcerated for risking theirs and others’ lives.

Back to the situation …

There were about 4 to maybe 6 feet between the guagua and the cliff side of the mountain.  Expertly maneuvering we avoided a collision.  Grace was with us and kept us off the guard rail.  Relief washed over me.  All too soon!  The front brake hose at that very moment chose to blow.  With only the back brake catching and causing instability, the split fraction of a second choice was to either hit the rail and go over the side, or to lay the bike down and slide into the oncoming lane.  Grace was with us once again!  No oncoming traffic, reduced speed, and going uphill.  We slid about 20 feet and the bike a further 20.  I felt us going over ever so gently.  It was surreal.  There was zero impact, like floating on air with friction.  I took the brunt of the road as my partner in grime let himself weigh me down so as not to roll.  Thus, keeping my injuries to mere road rash.  At that, yes a lot of burn and bruising, but no breaks only a little skin missing and not to the bone!  No, I will not post the pictures.  They are graphic and appear much worse than reality.

Had we been on the down slope, and the passola being “automatic” we may not have been able to stop and would likely have continued to accelerate.  Chalk one up for motorcycles being superior to scooters!

The plus side of Dominican drivers, the good ones are more than hospitable.  Immediately we found ourselves to have assistance.  I was whisked away by a good Samaritan to the nearest clinic to have my injuries treated.  My partner and the bike … they awaited a truck to go to a mechanic.  At the time, I had no real idea as to whether he had hidden injuries as they rushed me off so quickly.  There is no telephone signal in the mountains.  No communication.

I was less than impressed with the quality of care at the clinic.  Yes they cleaned my injuries, disinfected them but did not use antibiotic cream nor dressings.  Let alone give me a shot in the ass for pain.  I will not be re-visiting that clinic.  While there, and remember where we are, imagine, my telephone stopped working.  It was the provider.  I couldn’t send or receive calls.  Not knowing …

Horrid feeling.  Within an hour I had service again.  Immediate relief.  Reunited with my partner several hours later … I exhaled …

Yes, we were in an accident, and we more than survived.  Convinced that our higher power kept us from being on the downhill side, and has given us a second chance at life, we now look at life a little more as a great gift.  I certainly appreciate my partner more.  I cannot imagine life fading from his eyes.  I didn’t think that was possible.  Oh good heavens, today, I am so grateful that he was uninjured, and a quick thinker.  Today I learned how truly deeply you can love another person.  Thank you God for sparing us.

Note:  The cover foto is not of the highway we were on.  The road we were on was a narrow two lane road.  I was a little occupied and took no photographs …

Amendment 1  – ooooooooooooo 3 days later … Dios mio I hurt.  The wounds are starting to heal, two are getting good, one is significantly improved and the two worst ones hurt like the dickens.  Those are going to take a long time to heal.  Likely a couple months, they are deep and weeping a lot 😦

Yesterday brought on a visit to my doctor in SD.  He was outraged at the way the clinic responded.  He bandaged me up ordered superior antibiotics and … jejeje … told me to behave.  Gave me a hug and shipped me off.  Love my doc!

Amendment 2 –  Day 5  It took forever to change my bandages today, my hands were shaking so badly and feeling very weak.  After a rest I hopped a moto to the drugstore for more gauze pads and diclofenaco.  They of course offered me the self adhesive pads at 200 pesos each.  I refused and said, “where are the ones that you sell to locals.”  The girl denied having any.  I was rather obnoxious and said loudly in Spanish, “you cannot tell me that you have none, as no-one in the pueblo can afford these!”  At which her Jefe intervened and provided me with the 7 peso a pad gauze.  I asked to see the diclofenaco, and as predicted it was with potassium and not sodium.  I had asked for the other.  I mean geez!  What’s a Gringa gotta do?

Amendment 3 – Day 7  Feeling a little better every day.  The road rash on my right thigh’s little scabs are falling off revealing the new pink skin underneath and the right knee’s crust is starting to crack.  The left “thigh/cheek” is still molested and burning, but it’s got minimal draining so it too is on it’s way to healing.  The left knee and shin are healing nicely though they have a ways to go.  My left elbow on the other hand is causing me some concern.  It is improving … I think?  But if not significantly better by mid-week I will have it re-evaluated.  😦  Man, this sucks!

Amendment 4 – Day 15  All but the elbow are sealed and healing from within.  Had the elbow re-evaluated and was put on stronger antibiotics.  The doc at the clinic wanted to scrape it … OH HELL NO!  I guess that’s the way they treat burns here.  All I could think of is, “it’s already infected, sure let’s cut into it and see if we can spread it further … and ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh let’s not forget the pain.”  So, I’ve been soaking it in salt water as hot as I can take it and using topical antibiotic that she prescribed as well as the oral.  I see improvement.  It’s weeping and self cleaning and the redness has gone down a lot.  Not me, not the doctors, no-one realized just how deep the would was.  The bruising went from my armpit to my wrist and has faded considerably.  Fingers crossed and here’s to hoping that it clears … I’m a little shaken.

Amendment 5 – Day 24  The elbow is showing progress in healing.  The infection is down but not eliminated.  I’ve been trimming the necrotic tissue myself as it loosens and it is relatively painless that way.  It’s still weeping.  A friend who had road rash 20 years ago recommended soaking in a sodium hypochlorate solution rather than salt.  As bleach kills everything I switched to that.  I think it’s helping as much as the antibiotics.  Dakin’s Solution is it’s name.  Only I mix it a little lighter and add a little sodium bicarbonate as well.  Several soaks a day and dressing changes are going well.  This is week three, and I’m hoping that I’m at least halfway healed!

Amendment 6 – Week 10  The arm still has a small wound covered in a scab.  Dimensions are 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch.  The pain has subsided a lot though a little remains.  Above the injury the sensation is of numbness.  Must have no nerves connecting in the skin there.  Wonder if that will heal?  Next post … will be when all healed.  So far, I’m going to have some dandy scars.  Battle injury stories to tell 😉

Amendment 7 – 10 months later the scars are finally fading.  Maybe in 2 more years the road rash will be gone, but the scar on my elbow will be forever.

Listen to the palms…

~Loca Gringa

© Loca Gringa and


17 responses to “Cordillera

  1. Ayayayaay. Glad it was not worse. We have a car and there have been many times when we thought we would bite it when cars get into oncoming traffic just to pass another vehicle. To get good health care, you have to go to one of the better clinics, but as it were, you had not much of a choice. Rest up and get well soon!

    • This was a private upscale clinic. I have really good med insurance and I will be informing the insurance company about the quality of care and exactly what service they provided. If they billed them for more they will have a problem.

      I also went to my doc in SD today and he said they certainly did not follow protocol :/

  2. Pingback: … And They Call Me Gringa | Loca Gringa·

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