We hadn't eaten since lunch and it was just an aperitif away from dinner but nevertheless we hot- tailed it down to the medical centre.
The doctor saw us immediately and said I had to go ashore to the hospital and get my arm x-rayed.
'You must pay the driver - who will pick you up shortly - and pay him 70 euros in cash. Wait here until he arrives.'
Fortunately I had enough euros on me and Dylan phoned Bubbles to explain we would miss dinner but see him later.
We had a long wait before the driver appeared and he immediately disappeared to conduct some business with the purser on another deck. It seems he wasn't a taxi driver but an important port official- I'll call him P.I.
After another long wait he reappeared and I paid the 70 euros. Dylan warned me to get receipts for everything I paid out. Then he drove us to the hospital- by now it was very dark and there didn't seem to be any clear entrance or car park. ( Incidentally most of the men on Cape Verde Islands are very tall with excellent shapes - which brightened some of the gloom.)
We parked in a dark place amongst some bushes and Dylan and I hung on to each other as we followed P.I.
Once in the hospital we were taken to a desk and a long conversation between the P.I. and the man
behind the desk ensued. We couldn't understand a word but finally it seemed I had to pay an entrance fee in escudos. We didn't have any but he finally accepted some euros and I remembered to get a receipt. Everyone seemed quite cross and I felt like an alien - but then I suppose I was.
We were shown into a large inner sanctum. It had pretty eau de nil walls and floor and had flashing lights - a nod to Christmas maybe. There were odd cubicles around and various people sitting at desks looking official. Occasionally nursing staff would amble through and disappear into one of the cubicles/ offices but for the most part we were ignored standing like lost souls on the eau de nil floor. From time to time we would catch sight of the P.I talking earnestly to one of the staff but for the most part they seemed to be blanking him.
'Is it because we're British,' I asked? But he just wearily shook his head.
There were some seats but people - under the influence of drink or drugs - were lying on them so we remained standing. We knew we were due to set sail early a.m. and P.I. brought the time forward to get some action - to little avail.
Exhausted we spotted two seats near a side door along side a little girl - about eight years old. She was delightful- her hair in bunches, prettily dressed and absorbed with what must have been a new pink handbag. From time to time a woman lying on a stretcher on the floor would call her name - something like Madelena. Madelena tried to ignore it until the bawling got louder and more insistent.
Then she would go to her ? mother and try to calm her down and then come back to sit by us.
Every now and then the woman would get up, stagger around and then fall. She would be put in a chair and the whole thing happened again. Eventually she was interviewed and Madelena was taken away. Our interpretation was that the little girl was going to be taken to a safe place which certainly would not be her mother at this stage. This really upset Dylan and he had a sleepless night worrying about the little girl and the life she must lead.
From time to time there would be hammering on the locked door near us and I thought this must be similar to a waiting room for Hell.
We were mesmerised when the doors burst open and a stretcher bearing a young woman who appeared to have been stabbed arrived. An armed police man completely clothed in black - head covered, face masked, dark glasses glasses and a lethal looking weapon slung round him accompanied her. With no sense of urgency some of the staff ambled over and chatted. I have no idea what they were saying and some thirty minutes later the young woman ceased groaning, got up and walked out.
I'm afraid I groaned out loud when someone sitting on my right was violently sick. At last we were slowly ushered into one of the cubicles and my arm was x-rayed. After an hour or so we were told there was no fracture and a soft back slab was applied. Now we were told we had to wait for a prescription. After more vomiting and another long wait I asked the P.I. why the ship's doctor
couldn't write the prescription. To his credit he saw the sense in this and we left for the ship.
Also to his credit he stayed in the hospital with us throughout.
By now it was almost midnight but we were able to get a meal. Bubbles was very relieved to see us and I was so grateful to Dylan for standing by me.
I kept the x- ray and in the UK everyone who has seen it saw the fracture of the distal radius. The unfortunate thing was I didn't have a plaster applied until New Year's Eve - back in UK.
Thank God for our National Health.