EuroTrip2006 – Day 23: Crashing to a Halt

Highlight: My bike ride around Lake Como. I loved the exercise, the wind in my face, and the beautiful views.
Lowlight: Ben’s bike ride around Lake Como. I hated spending 4 hours in a hospital waiting room where no one spoke English, worrying about Ben.
Fun Fact: According to this page Italy has 11 cycling deaths per 100 million km of road biked. The highest of any country mentioned.
Money spent: โ‚ฌ46.50
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 0 (Today was not his fault)
Pairs of clean underwear left: 10
Book Page: 704

In order to get to Lake Como this morning, we needed to take a train to Milan first and then transfer. While we were waiting on the platform, this old lady came up to us and tried to give us rings for World Youth Day (a big Catholic event). We politely declined but she persisted. Eventually we just walked away and she started shouting “Jesus te llama” (Jesus loves you). We laughed and kept walking.

When the train arrived we quickly boarded and found an empty compartment. I was coughing (chest cold still bothering me) and Ben encouraged me to keep it up to scare off other passengers. It seemed to be working really well, until our Catholic friend decided to join us. Her religious conviction protected her from disease. I may have failed at scaring her away, but she succeeded at scaring us away. As she entered, Ben said “No way. Go, go!” and we quickly bolted to another carriage.

When we finally arrived in Lake Como we were struck by how hot and humid it was. After 25 minutes of hiking to our hostel our shirts were soaked and we were sticking to our packs. It didn’t help that we got lost along the way and had a friendly cyclist lady escort us as we jogged back down a hill we didn’t need to climb.

The hostel was closed for siesta until 4 – as was anything that might have served food. So we found a shady bench beside the lake and relaxed for an hour. The view was gorgeous.

At 4 we checked in, dropped of our bags, and rented mountain bikes. We decided to head north along the lakes, past some small towns (and George Clooney’s summer home), and toward the beach. It was hilly and we had to struggle up the hills. But on the way down I could fly! I loved it. I commented to Ben it was our best idea all trip. The feel of the wind in my face was exhilarating.

We stopped in the first village for pizza. I carried the box from the pizza place to the park on the lake, carrying it in one hand as I biked. I was hot-dogging it and biking with no hands, when I wiped out near the benches. I was ok and so was our dinner. I only hurt my pride, as people came to see if I was ok. Ben was amused because I wiped out before he did.

After eating, we pushed on, heading up and down winding mountain roads. I loved the downhills. I would go as fast as I could, having the wind whipping my face. Ben would take things slower, as he was a bit shaky on his bike. I would wait for him at the bottom of the downhills and we would continue.

After one downhill, I was waiting at the bottom when a motorcyclist stopped me and started talking in Italian. I apologized and said “No Italiano”. Frustrated, he continued on, but soon turned around, came back and said: “Bicycle…broke down” and pointed up the hill. That didn’t sound good.

I biked back to find Ben sprawled at the side of the road, blood all over his shirt, and him complaining about a broken arm. At first I thought he was joking and hoped it was just bruising. But he couldn’t move his arm at all without sharp pain.

A good Samaritan with a van had stopped and he loaded our bikes into the back and drove us back to the hostel and then on to the hospital. Every bump we hit made Ben scream and swear.

At the hospital, our kind driver left us and we were left to fend for ourselves. Ben was brought into the ER in a wheel chair and I was forced to sit in the waiting room. No one spoke English. I spent 4 hours sitting in the waiting room reading. I finished off a good chunk of my book. Eventually someone came and got me and I was brought into a room where Ben was being mummified. He had found a doctor who spoke some French and was informed that his shoulder was cracked and dislocated. Ouch! Just think of the damage he could have done canyoning.

They transferred him to a bed in Cantu, 8 km south, and I had to find my way back to the hostel. I found a bus stop and waited for the bus. It was dark already and I was worried I’d need to take a cab. The bus came and the driver informed me I needed a ticket, no cash. I pretended not to understand his broken English, gave him the money and sat down.

At 10:30, I was at the hostel. I gave an update to our worried hostel attendant, and then went to get a bite to eat. I needed to call Ben’s parents, but it was only 3:30 in Montreal and I wasn’t eager to break the news. After scarfing down half a pizza, I made the call and talked to a shocked Mr. Guzinski. I tried to reassure him that Ben was safe, but only got shocked silence in reply.

I finally crawled into bed around midnight.

Sun on the Face  Killing time during the Siesta  Ben - Bike Pro  Alpine Biking  Bike Time  Ambulance Van

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