Ronell had always loved monkeys. She feels about them the way I feel about hedgehogs: something that cute shouldn’t even exist. It thus truly broke my heart when I heard her say over the phone: “I had just been attacked by the monkey.”
The monkey in question was a pet belonging to the woman in the yacht across from ours. It was a cute little thing the lady had basically raised from birth, but after a few weeks in a care-facility with the owner away on business, he had started to behave unpredictably, often bearing his not- cute-at-all incisors. This culminated in him escaping his leash and sinking his vampire like teeth into Ronell’s arm.
She was very calm on the phone, while I was fighting the urge to start running back up the gangplank. I asked a couple of questions befitting a doctor to calm myself down. The huge gash was on top of her lower forearm, away from important arteries and tendons. There was nothing sinister protruding from the wound and they had stopped the bleeding with a pressure bandage. She had to go. The doctor was seeing her now.
Over the next couple of days, Ronell and I were in constant WhatsApp contact. Travelling in developing countries always makes one acutely aware that one’s problems are very relative, but it was a tough time. Apart from the cleaning and suturing, she had to endure a literally nauseating barrage of tests, antibiotics and inoculations for which she had to return to the clinic in the city almost every other day. Her much-looked-forward-to 10 days of productive computer time interspersed with sun and surf sessions, vanished into a haze of wound care, injections, med-induced exhaustion and queezyness.
My burden was one of helplessness, being away from one’s love in a time of suffering. Also, being a doctor, a medical emergency which one can do nothing about, carries an extra sting. Ronell handled the whole thing like a pro. Read again the bit above about travelling with cool, adaptable, independant people: she is all of this. A big thanks to everyone at the marina and to the Brazilian health workers who took care of her when I couldn’t. But where were we? I was descending the gangway steps… and there we met Ednison.
Ednison is one of those people who just makes everything work out effortlessly. As he walked up the stairs in front of us with his stocky, broad-shouldered gait, he was a metaphor of the big ship itself. Stay in his wake and, one could feel instinctively, things were going to be a lot easier.
He was talking Portuguese and gesticulating left and right: This is the lower level for the cars and the cargo. The man at that little table is where you buy your tickets (this ended up being 150 Reals, slightly less than R 600 or 40 USD). Behind there is where you can collect your dinner with your coupon. Over there is another flight of stairs, but we’ll go up here. This is the second deck and fills up rapidly with passengers and the hammocks get put up very close together. Better to go up here, this is the third deck, also for hammock passengers but smaller and quieter and you should have a bit more space. The toilets and showers are over there. The canteen and shop around here. Up here is the uncovered top deck which is the best place for viewing. Yes sure, you can hang your hammocks up tonight already to try and reserve your spots, but still arrive a couple of hours before departure time tomorrow because it can get crazy.
We did hang up our hammocks and managed to reserve our spaces for the next day, but crazy it was. It was time for the third and final meeting.