San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. November 2017
There are many lessons to be learned from a life lived as poorly as mine: white sheets are overrated; a barrel-bolt-locked door can be easily penetrated; handcuffs aren’t as romantic as Hollywood would have you believe, etc. etc. But from all of the knowledge spouted through my stories, I ask that if you’re to take only one thing away, let it be this:
Don’t cut costs when choosing travel insurance.
Travel insurance is the abortion of the travelling world: it’s inconvenient, it’s expensive, and it’s spitting in the face of God’s divine plan for us. But much like the headache aforementioned, travel insurance is a necessary evil and one you’ll be glad you took when you hit the speed bumps of the road.
Travel insurance is the sole reason I have any teeth left whatsoever and a functioning brain. I might be getting ahead of myself—travel insurance is the sole reason I have a brain. Not to mention the peace of mind it’s given me during my numerous robberies, countless close calls, and the inevitable shipping of my corpse back home. And at the end of the day, how can you put a price on peace of mind?
Cut measures where you can, but never on travel insurance.
Located in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, ‘Sunday Funday’ is the flag-bearer for debauchery in Central America. A drunken “pool-crawl” attracting hundreds of like-minded degenerates every week, its infamous allure proved too strong for Dillon and myself to resist. On the advice of three drunks at a Costa Rican hostel, we immediately changed our travel plans and made a beeline for the small Nicaraguan town to see if it could indeed, live up to the hype. Unfortunately, my brain was still on wobbly legs from the schizophrenic fit of two weeks earlier, so I wasn’t exactly ready for the biggest party of a region renowned for its depravity.
But I’m also not scared of fun.
Faced with this dilemma, we loaded up on rum and rocked up to the world-famous Naked Tiger Hostel on the Saturday, so that we could get our stretches in before Sunday’s gameday. But the news out of camp was that our ‘Sunday Funday’ had been pushed back a day because apparently Nicaragua has a government, which had decided to hold a vote on the day of our pub crawl. When will we finally accept that democracy just doesn’t work?
We polished off most of the rum, went to bed, and spent the next day at the beach, before settling in back at the hostel for the night.
Dillon “I’m going to call it, mate. Big one tomorrow!” Bing “My balls, Dillon. You’re breaking them.” Dillon “Says the man who’s had two drinks in the last two weeks.” Bing “When YOU get schizophrenia, then YOU can choose the days you want to drink.” Dillon “Catchya in the morning.” Bing “Yeah, I’ll be up once I finish this,” I said optimistically, brandishing the bottle in my hand.
I made my way to the bar—occupied by the few guys and girls left with a bit of ticker—and buried my head in the remnants of my rum. This was quickly followed with well-wishes to everyone for a safe and merry trip back to their loved ones.
Brock “Hey! You’re not allowed to go to bed without finishing your drink.” Bing “F**k off. Esta terminado, motherf**ker.” (“Go away. It’s finished, you sleep with your mother.”)
My statement fell on deaf ears as two more glasses of vodka were filled.
Brock was this big Aussie lad working the bar at the Naked Tiger Hostel. Painted head to toe in tattoos—with a ginger buzz cut and beard to match—he looked like Ronald McDonald with a criminal record. I had first met him in Bocas Del Toro on the night of Dillon’s “near miss,” so we hadn’t had the chance to properly acquaint. He had since found a job working the bar at the Naked Tiger, where he remained adequately hydrated around the clock. The guy didn’t sleep! He was currently into the second day of a bender that showed no signs of slowing down.
Anyways, he was an a**hole back in Bocas, and he was an a**hole now. I really did like the guy.
Brock “I beat you to the bottom, you buy me a drink.” Bing “You beat me to the bottom, I’ll buy you two!”
He beat me to the bottom.
The next hour was just a compilation of failed exit strategies, as I attempted to drink a bottomless glass of vodka being repeatedly filled by Brock. He eventually bought shots for the bar, which led to another round of shots, which led to another round of shots, which led Megs—the hostel’s owner—to pull out a hose and start dousing the bar floor’s tiles. I was just as confused as you are.
Megs runs the Naked Tiger hostel and is probably the nicest human being to walk the Earth since Jesus. Why a 30-something-year-old, good looking American girl was managing a bar filled with 20-year-old degenerates in Nicaragua is beyond me, but I’m not one to question someone’s appetite for a good time.
I digress; Megs flipped the hose from the tiles to the crowd, turning the place into an MTV wet t-shirt contest, as Brock threw Nicaragua’s finest liquid soap into the mix.
Megs “Slip ‘n’ slide, baby!! Woo!!”
The atmosphere in the room was oddly optimistic for something only ever ending one way.
The tiled floor which surrounded the bar was now a glorified Nicaraguan Water Park. I stripped down to my tighty-whiteys and thought we best get this show on the road. Within minutes, all hell had broken loose: girls were down to their bottoms, guys were down to their jocks, and the tiles were turned into a game of human air hockey. While this was going on, Brock had other ideas. From behind the bar, lathered up in oil, he came running out in his Adam and Eves, swinging meat.
Brock “Out of my way, you f**king pussies!” he yelled, as he gracefully launched himself across the tiles, cock first. He soared like an Eagle, blinding onlookers with his pale a**, posing what I could only interpret as a challenge.
Do I look like I’m scared of fun?
I disrobed, made my way outside, and marked my run-up from the furthest point in the yard. The longer the run-up, the faster the delivery.
“Get your white a** off my floor, puta madre!” (“motherf**ker”) I called out to the naked man, now doing what I can only describe as soap angels on the tiles. They’re like snow angels, but drunker.
I’ve only ever been in slow motion twice in my life. Once during a cataclysmic hangover eating KFC in Queensland, and now.
I pushed off from the pillar holding up my beautiful buttocks and leapt into stride like a gazelle in the wind. My chest was out, my hair was blowing, and all two inches of little Bing were gloriously slapping back and forth. I could already envision my voluptuous, naked body sliding majestically across the tiles; body glittering, women dripping, and men thinking, “Hey, I want to be that guy!”
As this splendid image played out in my mind, I failed to realise the leak that had escaped the confines of the hostel bar, and made its way outside, soaking the launch pad. As I planted my foot for take-off, it didn’t appreciate the detergent-filled/water combo it found itself on and slipped… in a bad way.
My feet launched backwards into the air, causing my head—already committed full-tilt towards the ground—to over-rotate and crash into the tiles. The pace at which I hit the pad and the momentum I had already thrown into the slide, resulted in the impact of the fall multiplying exponentially.
Thankfully, my salacious body came away unscathed, as I had completely broken the fall with my skull. In the same vein as my talent for breakdancing, it was about the moment when my head bounced off the tiles that I came to realise; I don’t know how to slip ‘n’ slide.
My body went into shock immediately, and my mind was cast back to the only other time my body had dealt with the condition—when I lost my teeth at Mardi Gras. I was sure I had knocked the bastards out again!
I picked my bodacious body up off the floor, grasping at my teeth… which were all still there! My fake, miscoloured ivories were still intact, in all their glory! I looked up with an air of relief, to a sea of shocked onlookers, looking at me like I’d just thumbed the hostel’s cat.
What? I know it’s small guys, but still, eyes up here.
Brock “You alright, mate?” Bing “Yeah, just need to realign the ego.” Brock “The ego’s the least of your problems, mate. Someone get me the First Aid Kit!” Bing “We all good, brother?” Brock “Yeah, just that the skull’s meant to be on the inside of your head.” He laughed as I suddenly noticed the river of blood that was streaming over my right eye. I looked down at my chest, which was already doused in blood, and my body suddenly kicked into gear:
This isn’t good.
The alcohol infesting my brain made way for an unsteady light-headedness, bringing with it a sudden wave of sobriety. Dropping a knee to the floor, I could do nothing but watch helplessly as blood gushed from my skull to decorate the tiles beneath me. Between the blood, the alcohol, and the colossal gash scarring my forehead, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, I should’ve gone to bed when Dillon did.
Megs “Bing, can I have a look?”
I looked up to her on bended knee, where she immediately took a step back with a gasp. All good signs so far!
Megs “It isn’t that bad.” Bing “I never asked if it was, thanks, Megs!”
Brock was handed the First Aid Kit and told me to stand up. Knowing that he hadn’t slept since my arrival the day before, he wouldn’t have been my first choice to administer First Aid. But as is so often the case, I was proved to be wrong once again, as he had my head wrapped up like Japanese origami in seconds.
Bing “Megs, nearest hospital, please.” I reached for my clothes. Megs “It’s one a.m. in Nicaragua, honey. There aren’t any hospitals.” Bing “Doctors?” Megs “Don’t worry! I know someone who does great stitches!” Bing “Are they a Doctor?” Megs “No, but he is the best!” Bing “Nurse?” Megs “No, but the good news is, it won’t cost you a penny!”
Won’t cost me a penny? What’s the point of even having travel insurance if you can’t use it on a brain injury? Although, this one might be a little bit harder to explain to the insurance company than my teeth, “Yeah, I was just walking on some tiles in Nicaragua—sober, of course—when I slipped on some soap… No, definitely not drinking. You’d be surprised as to how many people do ‘Sunday Funday’ sober!” (We’d share a friendly laugh over the phone, before recomposing ourselves.) “Na, the clothes came off during the fall.”
Bing “There’s not a single part of that sentence which is good news, Megs. I don’t want my head getting hacked together for free, in the middle of the night, in Nicaragua!” Megs “Just get in the car.” Bing “Yes, ma’am.”
We jumped in the back of the Naked Tiger shuttle-bus (which was just a ute with some makeshift benches and a canopy in the tray) and sat idly waiting for take-off. Megs was in the driver’s seat, which we could talk to through the non-existent rear windshield, and Brock had positioned himself on the bench across from me in the tray. There was no reason for him to be there, besides his own fear of missing out on something interesting.
Bing “What’s the holdup, Megs? Some of us are losing blood at a faster rate than others.” Megs “Oh, quiet you.” Bing “Seriously, are we going anytime soon?” Megs “We’re just waiting on Mike.” Bing “Who’s Mike?”
No sooner had these words left my mouth, than some other bloke had emerged from the hostel, running towards the car with a towel held up to his chin. I wasn’t the only casualty of the night.
Bing “You’ve got to have a serious rethink about your slip ‘n’ slide policy, Megs.”
Mike introduced himself as Megs reversed down the driveway, on the way to… I still didn’t have a f**king clue where we were going!
Bing “Megs, where are you taking us?” Megs “I already told you. I know this place that does really good stitches.” Bing “So, like, a pharmacy?” Megs “Not exactly.” Bing “… A friend?” Megs “You could say that. They’ve done stitches for a few people at the Naked Tiger!” Bing “Not a single thing you’ve said to me tonight has been reassuring.”
After thirty minutes, we were in the middle of Buttf**k Nowhere and parked outside what looked, to the untrained eye, to be a set of abandoned buildings. Do you know how abandoned a set of buildings have to be to look abandoned in Nicaragua? If you could bottle up the look on Mike’s face, it would outsell the Conjuring franchise.
Megs “Here we are!” Bing “Megs, take me to a vet. F**k, take me to that 24/7 shop. I’ll buy a needle and stitch it together myself. Just anywhere but here.” Megs “Can you stop being a little b**ch?” Bing “Yes, ma’am.”
We walked up to the door—which must have been there since the Spanish conquest—where Megs asked us to stand back so that she could “smooth things out.” Another reassuring statement from Mother Megs. After knocking on the door for several minutes, a long silence was broken by a voice yelling from behind the door. We were off to a good start!
Megs politely responded before the door was hurled open by the largest Latino man I had ever seen. Spanish Addams Family was missing Spanish Lurch, and Spanish Lurch was not at all happy about being disturbed in the middle of the night! He began unleashing on Megs.
My limited Spanish didn’t allow me to completely comprender, but I knew he wasn’t asking, “debit or credit?” I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry, but I was sure that my useless grasp of the Spanish language, severe blood loss, and questionable intoxication levels weren’t going to help if I was to try and diffuse the situation. Brock was no longer finding the situation funny and made his way back to the safety of the car, by himself. He clearly hadn’t watched enough horror films. If he were a black man, I’d have feared it was the last time I’d see him.
Once Spanish Lurch had finished with his verbal tirade, the ever-optimistic Megs proclaimed, with a big smile across her face, that we were “good to go in!” With that, I made my way inside, passing Spanish Lurch with the politest “Muchas gracias” ever spoken on the shores of Nicaragua. I was just hoping that he wouldn’t eat me. He sneered at me instead, and ushered me down a dark hallway, leading to a large moulded door at its end. I came to a stop at its step, waiting for further instructions from Spanish Lurch, who just barged past me and threw his shoulder into the door.
… And I thought the place was rundown from the outside! Not a single part of the room would have passed for Kosher! Mould was eating away at every wall, broken mirrors were lining the room, and a century-old blood-stained chair sat in the centre, positioned under a flickering light. I had just walked into a real-life Saw scene.
Spanish Lurch “Sit!”
He pointed towards the blood-stained seat, and I accepted the fact that, at the very least, I was walking away with hepatitis. Megs took a seat next to me, as Spanish Lurch walked towards a table, showcasing tools that looked to have been sat there since the 1800s. He turned back towards me and removed the bandage from my head, causing Megs to grimace.
Bing “Not that bad ay, Megs?” Megs “You will be good as new in ten minutes!” She gave me a forced smile.
Spanish Lurch then emerged with a needle that Megs said was a local anaesthetic. I don’t like needles. I don’t like them at all. Just save us both the time, give me the hepatitis, and I’ll walk out the door now!
I felt him pierce the needle to the top of the wound, which seemed redundant, because of, you know, gravity. The anaesthetic was injected into my head, ran down the wound, and emerged back out of the gash, where it proceeded to ooze down my face. I love Central America. Spanish Lurch wiped my face, and to my surprise, the anaesthetic worked an absolute treat! My head went completely numb!
… For the first two stitches.
The 3rd stitch felt like someone was digging their nails deep into my skull. Then the 4th, 5th and 6th felt like a 6”5’ Nicaraguan man was hacking my head together with a rusty needle. If you’ve ever had someone hack your forehead apart with a blunt knife, I’m sure you can relate.
Spanish Lurch slapped a bandage on my head, yelled at me in Spanish, and Megs told me to go and get Mike. Mike had been in the waiting room, which was the equivalent of a boiler room with a chair. I walked up and greeted him with a smile.
Mike “How was it? You’re as pale as a ghost!” Bing “Disneyland in there, brother. Enjoy!”
He stood up, looking as assured as I had in all my previous interactions with Megs that night, and as I saw him disappear into the funhouse, I smiled; for what he was walking into was, objectively, very funny.
He emerged fifteen minutes later, looking like he’d gone the distance with Mike Tyson, before we both hurried out of the place, not allowing Spanish Lurch to change his mind. We ushered ourselves into the back of the ute, still not knowing who or what had just performed surgery on us, and made our way back to the Naked Tiger.
Bing “How many stitches did you get?” Mike “Three.” Bing “P**sy.” Mike “F**k off.” Brock “Please boys, please… you’re both p**sies.”
We arrived back at the Naked Tiger, where I put myself straight to bed. I couldn’t help but feel a little anger as I walked past an unconscious Dillon, who was probably dreaming about a slip ‘n’ slide experience with naked girls and adequate medical facilities. With my head bandaged up, and unnecessarily drunk, I started once again to ponder the possibility that maybe, I should have gone to bed when he did.
Why do I do these things?
It was about an hour later when I got struck with the worst case of nausea I had ever experienced in my life.