The heat of the sand is radiating up through my make-shift sarong blanket and into my back so much so that I can almost feel my ‘vulnerable eye’ tattoo, which is located on my spine, blinking away the intensity of the warmth. It is 12pm and, after a busy morning of work, I am lying on the beach, drinking in the clean air while exhaling sighs of total relaxation. I’m not sure why, buy my gratitude meter is particularly through the roof this afternoon. Perhaps it is because of the cloudless sky, perhaps it is because of the sapphire blue sea or perhaps it is because my subconscious is trying to keep me as relaxed as possible in order to build up strength for the the disaster that, unbeknownst to me, is looming like a dark horse, ready to pounce in the very near future.
I had made plans to meet a friend for lunch at 1pm so, at 12:45, I peel myself up off the ground and slowly pull my dress over my damp bathing suit. I catch a glimpse of my bicycle, laying on a log with the Caribbean Sea and palm trees in the background. I love this bike…we have been through so much together! I decide to take a picture of it before hopping on and pedaling away – no idea why! It just seems right.
I am on the main road and, like I often do, decide that the ride to meet my friend at ‘Tasty Waves’ could do with a bit of music. With that, I stick in my earbuds and continue along the way.
I ride through Chiquita beach, waving at various locals as I pass by them. Cocles Beach is just up ahead and right after that is the restaurant.
As I hit the beach break, I see surfers and swimmers galore, enjoying this fantastic day. Children are laughing and tourists are sipping on coconuts as they lay in the sand hoping to get nice and tan – you know, the kind you can show off to your co-workers when you get back home.
All of a sudden, I notice a man on the side of the road who is holding a long piece of bamboo, vertically. Just as I am beginning to pass, it begins to waver, looking very unsteady. Not wanting it to fall on me, I quickly swerve out of the way, farther into the middle of the road. At that exact moment I hear it…
Over the music coming from my earbuds, I hear the fast approaching hum of a motorcycle and I know exactly what is about to happen but I also know there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
‘CRACK’ as loud as anything I have ever heard, as the motorcycle slams into the left side of my bike. I go down hard on my right and slide on the pavement for a few feet. Immediately I notice the burning sensation on the side of my body and up my leg. I am scared to move because I don’t want to know the damage. At the same time, out of the corner of my eye, I see the motorcycle go down too, the driver sliding and hitting the side of a hotel.
Before I know it, I have a crowd of people around me and the reality of what happened sets in. While lying in the road, I put my hands over my face and try to process the situation . HOLY SHIT. I JUST GOT HIT BY A MOTORCYCLE.
I notice a member of the crowd moving his mouth. I think he is saying something to me: “Look at me! Look at me NOW.” So I do. “I need you to breathe. You are in shock and I need you to take deep breaths.”
I know he is right, so I actively tell my mind to leave everything out of my consciousness except for this.
You can deal with the rest later. Don’t worry, it will all still be there. For now, you just need to focus on breathing: In….Out…In…Out.
Someone hands me a bottle of water and tells me to drink it. Again, I do as I am told. It is then that I notice I am shaking. I choke on the water but keep pouring it down my throat.
I am escorted to the side of the road, very thankful that my legs seem to be working. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my arm, which begins to pulse with intense pain. I text my friend whom I was supposed to meet for lunch: ‘hit by motorcycle. can’t come.’ Though I hate cancelling on people at last minute, I figure this is a pretty solid excuse.
As I am waiting for my friend to pick me up and take me to the clinic, I see that the motorcycle driver is sitting about 20 feet away from me, looking about as shell shocked as I probably do. She (not he) is covered in nasty cement burns – legs, arms and head. My immediate reaction is to stay away from her because if I talk to her, it might be considered ‘admitting fault’ which I am not ready to do. Yes, I was wearing headphones but she was DEFINITELY speeding, so I’m not really sure whose faul…. OH MY GOD. STOP! There is a fucking PERSON over there who is hurt. And you are hurt. And no one else has any idea what we are going through right now except each other.
With that, I walk over to her and sit down.
“How are you?” I ask.
She doesn’t look at me at first, but eventually she turns her head. She smiles sheepishly. I do the same and instinctively put my head on her shoulder.
Soon, we are both whisked away to various medical facilities. I am hooked up to an IV drip for the pain and find out that I probably have not broken any bones (there is no X-ray at the clinic in town so there is no way to be sure). I can go to the town of Limon, which is about an hour away and has a real hospital, but I decide to wait on that and see how I feel the next day. I came down hard on my right shoulder and it severely bruised or tore some sort of muscle, which is why I can’t lift my arm, but definitely no break. And the muscle isn’t torn severely enough to need surgery because, with assistance, my arm can be raised in all directions, I just can’t do it myself.
The next couple of days are a bit of blur. I do not sleep because I keep having flashbacks of the crash but I am also eternally grateful that it wasn’t worse. I could have broken something for sure. Or if I had come down on my head or my neck…well, I don’t even want to think about that.
Amazingly, after only a few days, I am able to walk around pretty well (slight limp due to an ankle sprain) and my bruises and cuts are already starting to look better. I credit something about this new lifestyle of mine – perhaps it’s lack of the stress or simply the energy of this tropical environment – for the fastest healing I could possibly ask for.
Another miraculous thing happens only a couple of days after the accident when I am at the grocery store. I see someone walking up to me and she is looking at the sling that is cradling my arm.
“Yes, I got hit by a motorcy….it’s YOU!” Low and behold, it is her…my compatriot in one of the most horrific physical situations I have faced in life thus far. I immediately notice that she, too, is healing so quickly! Her scrapes and cuts are already starting to brown and lessen. She gives me a big hug and It is clear that each of us is so incredibly happy that the other one is alright.
I have not seen her since then (nor had I ever seen her prior to the crash), but I am grateful to have such definitive closure to this episode. She is alright. I am alright. And, even if we never see each other again, we now have a friendly bond.
It has been exactly a week since the accident and I just bought a new bike today – it’s green with a big basket in the back. I am no longer wearing a sling, I am walking without a limp and I even went to a yoga class today (…OK, maybe I wasn’t quite ready for that). My immediate learning is that bike riding is for being present with what is happening – it is not a time to get lost in music. My deeper learning is still manifesting itself, but I can tell it will be a good one. Until then, I am going to be in awe of this vehicle that I have been given – my body – and what an amazing machine it is. Humanness can be tough at times…many times, in fact, but boy, this specimen in which we get to travel throughout this life is quite a gift.