Today is the day I would have boarded a plane to Santiago Chile…if it weren’t for my right foot. The plan was to start in Patagonia in the very southern end of Chile and then work my way up to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador between now and September. But, as you may have heard by now, ten days ago I managed to smash/twist my foot.
For the inquiring minds among you, wrestling bears is dangerous work. Seriously though, the x-rays I got a week ago showed no fractures, so the medical speculation is that I am suffering from deep bruising and torn tendons, which can take 4-8 weeks to rehab properly. So, now I am up to my ankles in arnica rubs, comfrey compresses, ice packs, and working at consuming protein at every opportunity. Coincidentally, I’ve discovered that bike tire inner-tubes work nicely for rehab exercises.
This is where I need to say that, of course I am disappointed/sad/mad, but mostly I just feel lucky. That’s because I am fortunate to have time to get off my foot and let it heal instead of having to go straight back to work, fortunate to have such caring and thoughtful friends and families, and fortunate to be in such an awe-inspiring place during the first blushes of spring while I recover. Also, I don’t regret what I was doing when I hurt my foot…Someone’s got to master the art of wrestling with bears.
A few days ago I was trading messages with a friend of mine in Washington state who runs a non-profit there. Like most non-profit overseers, he is overworked and underpaid. I asked how he was doing. “Grumpy. Thanks for asking!” he responded. I suggested that his miserable circumstances might not seem so bad compared to mine: canceling well-laid South America plans while tracing painful alphabets with the toes. “I see your point. But I wish I had South America plans,” he replied. Touche.
On the harder days in this recovery process, I try to remember that we’re really just along for the ride in this life. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make plans and try to stick to them, even when life gets in the way. Still, nothing like an injury to force us to accept that we are not in control of it all, and that sometimes, our plans will need to change.
About those South America plans, obviously they are on hold while I baby my foot back to full functioning. I figure when I can do the Scottish Foot Warming Dance I learned on a cold day in steel-toed boots on an EarthCorps job years ago, I’ll call myself recovered. (It involves a lot of hopping around, which is the activity my doc says puts the most strain on your foot, and when you can do that, you’re ready for anything.)
But the silver lining is that, assuming a full recovery in 6-8 weeks, my timeline now syncs up much better with that of my good friend Cienna who I originally plotted this trip with. If all goes according to the plan (haha), I will have a travel buddy for the first few months at least.
Since the goal was to get to Patagonia before winter weather sets in there (in April), it is highly likely that I will now reverse course and start my trip up near the equator in Quito, then make my way south to Patagonia by November, December. I’m told by locals there that’s really the “loveliest” time to be down there anyway.
I’ll continue to post about my rehab progress and rearranged travel plans as I’m able. Please continue to check this blog for updates and my gushing stream of consciousness about it all if you’re curious.