I had breakfast at the hotel today. As well as rolls and tea or coffee, you could order the cooked option which was either 3 spoonfuls of scrambled egg, or one fried egg. I got the fried egg and it came out all by itself on a plate!
After breakfast I spoke to the girl at reception and she ordered me a taxi to the medical clinic. I waited about 40 minutes for the taxi to arrive during which time numerous empty taxis went by. After about 30 minutes I went back inside and suggested I catch one of those, but was advised it is safer to catch a taxi that has been rung, because then you know at least it is a registered taxi.
When the taxi arrived, the receptionist came out and spoke to the driver so I was reasonably confident I would end up in the right place. I also had a pamphlet about the clinic that had the address on it. After about 5 minutes he started asking me where I was going, so I showed him the pamphlet. Then he was asking me something in Spanish and when I said “No Spaino” he kept asking me the same thing over and over, but louder each time. I kept showing him the pamphlet and repeating “No Spaino”.
We drove for what seemed ages and I was starting to get worried when we pulled up outside a health spa / club. This was not where I wanted to be, so I refused to get out! There was a bit of a standoff with the driver talking in Spanish and me once again saying “Still no Spaino” and showing him the pamphlet that had the address on it and a phone number.
In the end he rung the number and the clinic was just up the street on the other side. So then we argued about the fare, as the receptionist had said $25 Boliviano, and he was insisting on $60. In the end we agreed on $45.
I rang the bell at the outside of the clinic, and a security guard came out and unlocked a large gate. I was the only client. I went up to the reception, had to fill in a few forms, then was instructed to sit in a chair by the reception.
After about 10 minutes a young man came up and said he was the doctor and wanted to know why I was there. So I explained that I have asthma and am using my reliever way more than normal and am concerned. He asked if I have consulted with my New Zealand Doctor, which I haven’t since I have been here. Next he asks what I normally am given, so I respond 20mg prednisone twice a day for 5 days. So then he disappears and comes back about 5 minutes later, hands me a piece of paper that turns out to be a prescription, and wanders off again.
No examination, discussion of symptoms etc . I am wondering “So that’s it?” and then the receptionist calls me over hands me a bill. So I am not reassured at all. I ask her to call me a taxi back to the hostel. Hopefully will not be the same driver!
Thankfully not the same driver, and the taxi came within 5 minutes. The ride back took ages as the traffic was gridlocked, and in the end I got out about a block from the hostel. The fare was $30 Boliviano! I walked past the shop where I had got the jacket and the bag yesterday, and it was open so as soon as I got back to the Hostel I got the bag and headed back before the shop shut again for siesta.
I was thinking “This will take about 5 minutes as it is a very simple transaction, I want to return the bag I bought here yesterday, and pay more money to get the next size up”.
It’s the same shop assistant who was very pleasant and spoke quite good English yesterday. So an hour and a half later I finally leave the shop with the new bag!
Today the shop assistant didn’t speak English, and when he talked to me in Spanish and I say “No Spaino” he repeats what he has said, louder. With the help of a various different shoppers he tells me I need two receipts. I tell him I only have one because he only gave me one. This went on for about 30 minutes with him trying to ignore the fact I was still there.
Then he rang someone on the phone, I assume the boss. Then via various shoppers we discussed that it was a 20% off sale yesterday and goods had to be returned that day to exchange or refund . My response each time was that he did not tell me that. After a while he reverted to me needing a second receipt. Surprisingly my response was still “You only gave me one”. It must have been siesta time as he locked the shop door, so no more customers could come in.
At this stage I was starting to feel that I was in a Monty Python skit. Then he spent ages adding up sums on a piece of paper. In the end he said “Give me 330 bolivianos to swap the bag”, which I did so the bags were exchanged. He then told me not to come back again to exchange anything. I assured him I have no plans to return. I left the shop exhausted, not sure if it was a genuine communication breakdown, or a ploy to get me to pay full price for a second bag.
I was also hungry and spotted a nice looking coffee shop called “Gladys” and went there for lunch. Turns out I had hit on a good spot, there were lots of messages and cards from previous customers/tourists.
After this it was packing for tomorrow, off to the supermarket to get snacks, catching up on emails etc.
On the way back from the supermarket as it was nearly 6 pm I stopped at a pizza place and ordered a pizza. There was a street festival and I spent about an hour watching dancers in ethnic clothing, each group supported by a brass band.
The street by the hostel was completely closed off to traffic and there were street stalls with food and beer all set up with a stage. It looked like it will be an all night party already, although it was only about 7:30pm the party was getting into full swing. Hopefully it will not be too loud in the hostel.