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“You Americans wanna do something dangerous?” Felix asked in his French accent, one hand steering the boat and the other pushing back his thick dreadlocks.
(This happened to me not too long ago, and before I proceed to writing a regular medical blog article, I want to share with you my adventure. Soon enough you’ll see why!)
The high noon heat, homemade RumChata, and the lack of fish we were trying to catch on the Caribbean Sea had me and my four best friends ready for something more exciting. “What do you have in mind?” Ryan asked. Felix lit himself a hand-rolled cigarette before he told us, “There’s this cliff, not too far from here. We can jump off. Maybe thirty feet high.” We all looked at each other, drunk, bored, and in need of an adrenaline rush. “Hell yeah,” I told Felix. “We’re in.” As the hand-rolled dangled from the side of Felix’s mouth he jerked the boat around and headed north toward huge a huge cuesta in the distance.
Right off the bat, we noticed this bluff was not thirty feet but more like fifty, possibly higher. Felix knew it too and laughed at us as we silently gazed at the precipice. “Listen, this is very important. We swim to the edge of the rock and then climb. But when we get there, you must follow what I do exactly. There is poisonous reef and coral all over there. I will point it out and you cannot touch it. OK?” “What if we do,” Joe asked. As Felix tied his dreads, he told us with a big smile, “just don’t.”
We all trailed a few feet behind Felix, doing our best to keep up with whom we believed to be Aquaman. By the time we got to the entrance, we were all out of breath, barely able to tread water and Matt was doing his best not to puke. I was the best swimmer out of our crew, so I went first. Felix and I sunk into the water where he pointed out the lethal reef and coral. At this point, I was already seeing double thanks to the strong RumChata, but I figured if there was one way to go out, this was it. I carefully swam over the death zone, doggy paddling and hoping that I would live to see another day.
One by one I waited for my friends to meet me, praying that we wouldn’t need to rush to the hospital. Step one was complete, and we followed Felix up a steep cliff, at points on our hands and knees doing our best not to fall off the narrow path. At the top, we looked down, and yeah, this wasn’t fifty feet. “Listen, when you jump make sure to get running start. Like this!” Before we could ask any questions, Felix was falling from the sky. When we studied the water below it was clear what he meant. Directly below us were dozens of sharp jagged rocks sticking out from the water. “See? Easy!” Felix yelled from the sea, safe and sound. We all looked at each other. I walked to where stone met grass and took a deep breath. I confidently gestured for my friends to move to the side, a brave attempt to look calm and cool even though I was anything but. After a few deep breaths, I jolted forward and flew through the sky with the birds before I was swimming with the fish.
We all made it back in one piece, but it was clear when I arrived at my apartment in Brooklyn that I needed to get a check-up. The combination of cliff jumping, hiking up an active volcano, beach parties, excessive drinking, and lack of sleep had proved to take a massive toll on my body. Body parts ached that hadn’t before, and my sore throat wouldn’t go away. It’s safe to say that a much-needed visit to an urgent care facility was in my future. It didn’t take long for the professionals at a neighborhood urgent care to diagnose me with bronchitis and a minor fracture in my elbow. News you never want to hear but a reminder of a trip I’ll never forget.
Yes, I was in rough shape, and I had to begin nursing my body back to health immediately. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, it was worth it! We don’t get many exciting opportunities in life which is why we must create them for ourselves. Any chance you get, travel, embark on an adventure with your friends and take a risk. Go for it and don’t look back. With that being said, be safe. We all want to be the bold badass that everyone admires but we also don’t want to be buried six feet under.
After I had fully recovered from my trip to Martinique, I still had the travel bug. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or whom to go with, all I knew was that there was more world to see, and I didn’t want to wait. All my friends were busy with work and personal obligations, so I decided to stay in America and drive cross-country by myself. I had no plan. I didn’t write an itinerary or create a travel guide for myself. I would rent a car and start in Brooklyn and finish in Los Angeles. I only told a handful of people of my not-very-thought-out plan and before I knew it, I was on the road.
The trip was a perfect disaster. Or was it? I did zero preparation, packed terribly, and thought it would be “cool” to not use a map and get to California only by street signs and asking for directions from locals. It didn’t take long for me to get completely lost in the boondocks of Pennsylvania. Adding insult to injury, I got caught in a terrible storm where I swerved my car off the road and hit a tree. I sustained only minor injuries but thanks to my lack of planning I was in an area with terrible reception and had no idea where I was.
Finally, once the rain stopped the next morning, I was able to walk a few miles where sure enough I ended up in a small town called Warminster where I wandered into, you guessed it, a local urgent care clinic, needing assistance. (This happened to be a Chai Care location, if you must know. True story! Of course, back then, I didn’t know I’d end up writing blog posts for the very same venerable medical organization!) They supplied me with a few stitches on my chin and a splint for my swollen finger. When they asked me how this all happened, I felt too stupid to tell them the truth, so I lied and told them I got jumped.
By the way, here’s a handy link, should you ever want urgent care in Warminster, Pennsylvania.
And just so that everybody else don’t feel left out, here’s a link to all Chai Urgent Care locations. Find the nearest one, if you’re traveling through New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, and happen to be in need of patching up!
Moral of the story: Don’t be dumb like me and plan your traveling. It’s easy to romanticize “the road” and want to live on the edge but take it from personal experience, and plan for the unexpected. It’s the least you can do, and I’ll be expecting a thank you when you arrive home safely.
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.