A chance meeting nearly three weeks ago has led me to my current location in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – a place that, before then, I had never even heard of.
While in Ubud I met Selma – a 23-year-old Dutch beauty who has the stunning looks of a Brazilian goddess and the spicy attitude of a Colombian mamacita. Selma and I had met at In Da Lodge, but under unfortunate circumstances. After coming home from dinner one night, Rachel and I found her crying, doubled over in pain at the reception desk.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“I have so much pain in my stomach and I don’t know what’s wrong.”
One of the staff members told her she needed to go to the clinic, but she was scared to go alone. I told her I’d go with her, so the two of us climbed on the back of a scooter and went to see the doctor down the street. After describing her symptoms (awful pain in her right side, nausea, etc.) the doctor explained that she was concerned she might have appendicitis and would need to go as soon as possible to the hospital in Denpasar, roughly a 1.5-2 hour cab ride away.
Selma’s English is good, but not so good that she understood the word “appendicitis.” She looked at the doctor and I in pained confusion.
“It’s an organ in your body, hun,” I tried to explain softly. “And if it breaks it can make you very sick and you would need an operation to make it better.“
Turns out there is no gentle way to say “need an operation” when your’e in a third-world country and the waterworks started immediately. I didn’t blame her. I was scared too. I sprung into mom-mode, putting a cloth on Selma’s head and subsequently bossing everyone else around.
“You!” I pointed to the doctor. “I’ll need you to write down her symptoms and what you think the problem might be so that she can give it to the hospital in Denpasar. I also need copies of forms that she can file with her insurance.”
“You!” I turned to the receptionist at the clinic. “We need a taxi immediately that will take her first to the hostel to get her things and then straight to the hospital.”
“And you,” now looking at the staff member from the hostel. “We need to find her friend Lisa who is staying at the hostel to go with her to Denpasar.”
They stared back at me, a bit shocked at my directness.
After an extensive search for Selma’s friend Lisa (me and a few other girls woke up nearly the entire hostel with our flashlights and whisper shouts for “Lisa from the Netherlands!“), I had them packed and in the cab. Luckily, after a horrific night of visiting two hospitals in Denpasar, Selma was cleared. No appendicitis, just a terrible infection. Once back in Ubud she sought me out to thank me and even joined in for my birthday dinner. We hit it off and, over beers and girl talk one day, she looked at me and said, “I’m flying to Singapore and then Malaysia before going to Vietnam. Would you wanna come with me?
I love how the smallest decision – asking someone “what’s going on?” – can alter your entire course. Perhaps even your entire life.