Travel Insurance: A cautionary tale of Ronaldinho and mis orellas

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As someone in the travel trade, I’ll always ask a client if they have their travel insurance sorted.  I’m happy to deal with it for them, or equally happy if they have their own.  Back in the days when I travelled purely for pleasure, I once found myself in need of the services of my travel insurer.  Fortunately, not for anything major, but at 3am I was mighty glad to have them on call for what became a slightly surreal and amusing (in retrospect) experience.

We’d flown into Bilbao to see Atletico take on Barcelona.  We were staying at a nice hotel (must have been a mega-bargain, as it was rather too nice a hotel for our usual sartorial standards), and had spent a happy first day mooching around the city.  On returning to the hotel, I was somewhat taken aback to see an immaculate red carpet and velvet rope ensemble barring us from reception.  I marched up to the barrier in the manner of an Englishwoman on the first day of the sales, and was somewhat disappointed to be immediately allowed access.  Perhaps we weren’t quite as sartorially challenged as I’d thought.  Someone held the lift for us.  I looked up, and suddenly realised I’d been assisted by Ronaldinho.  We’d inadvertently booked in at the Barca team hotel.

It was a noisy if pleasant day, a great match, and a decent dinner, although I was a bit disconcerted to find out that my ears were leaking something deeply unpleasant.  Come 4am, I was still chasing elusive sleep.   The next day passed in a painful blur with much ear mopping, and paracetamol was doing nada.  At 3am the following night, I decided I was wussing out, and called the number to seek assistance.  The surreal part began.  I, in Bilbao, was having a conversation with an Aussie (actually in Sydney, not just expat) to find a doctor.  Eventually the hotel obliged.  My OH, who had been gently supportive throughout, finally found that lack of sleep had caught up with him, and was heard (as if via a fish tank) to comment that no one had ever died of earache.  I did point out that one or two people might have died after an overly-smart comment.

The doc arrived, and he, the hotel receptionist and I had a protracted 3 way converstation in Spanglish.  Mis orellas were not well, so I failed to understand why he was looking down my throat rather than in my ears.  The doc had a further conversation with the receptionist, and announced that he was missing some equipment, but the hotel could help.  Nightmarish visions of sharp implements flashed by me, and moments later a further knock came at our door.  Brandishing a silver cloche from the rather flash restaurant, a waiter doffed it with a flourish and presented the doc with…

…a dessert spoon, which he used as a tongue depressor.  Tonsilitis was pronounced, prescriptions issued, and OH dispatched (no doubt with a shrewish flea in his orellas) to go and find a pharmacy.  My perforated eardrum and I had a successful flight home, and I was fully restored by the power of antibiotics and plenty of fish soup.

And without travel insurance, I would undoubtedly have missed all the theatre.  Consider this a cautionary tale.

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