Breaking my Leg in the Galapagos Islands

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Winding down our trip in San Cristobal, was a total bittersweet moment. Our time in the Galapagos Islands seemed to FLY by and we experienced so much in such a short time! After already having visited Santa Cruz and Island Isabella, we had one full day left to explore the island of San Cristobal before we flew out the next day. 

Ready to make the most of it, we started our day bright and early with a Galapaguera Tour

Little did we know the day would end up with me breaking my leg in the Galapagos Islands. So let’s backtrack to that fateful Thursday.

Our Final Day 

Taking a look at our Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands Lonely Planet book, I found a few items on the itinerary that looked like fun options:

  1. Punta Pitt, which was in the northeast corner of Galapagos.
  2. Cerro Brujo Beach, known to have powdered sugar sand, Sea Lions, Blue-Footed Boobies as well as a great snorkeling spot.
  3. Galapaguera to see the giant tortoises, El Junco Lagoon, and the Treehouse hotel. 

Then to wind down the day we were going to check out the Charles Darwin Interpretation Center. The plan was to check out the viewpoints and the Charles Darwin Statue and watch the sunset along the beach nearby on the viewpoint dock.

Starting our day out we walked into town after enjoying another great breakfast from Galapagos Eco Friendly. 

Due to time constraints, we decided to do the Galapaguera tour.

*To read our full article of the half-day tour to Galapaguera, check it out here*

After a great tour with tortoises, tree houses and sea lions, we were heading off to the Interpretation Center!

Charles Darwin Interpretation Center

The walk wasn’t too far from town and was also free.

We walked around the different buildings following the paths to learn about the history of the islands and Charles Darwin. After the buildings, we were brought to a path that we had to make a choice if we wanted to check out the beach or the statue first.

Seeing as we saw the statue when we were on our scuba diving tour from the water, I opted to check out the beach and possibly take a quick siesta first. 

The walk was along a nice paved pathway and took maybe 10-15 minutes to get to. The beach, to our surprise, was not a soft sand beach we were expecting. 

Instead, it was covered in millions of tiny shells. 

We found a shady spot on the side and to try to take a peaceful nap. After a few minutes, I realized a nap was not going to happen, and we decided to head up to the statue and come back for the sunset. 

The fateful walk

Walking back down the path, we came to a crossroads to go left or straight. After looking at a map, Dave said we had to head to the left to get to the statue. 

On our way to the statue, came across a war cannon from 1970. Stopping to admire it and take a few photos, we trudged on.

Around 5 pm, We passed three tourists right before we came up to a viewpoint dock. Walking onto the dock I noticed a missing board piece, took note and continued on. 

I walked along the left of the hole near the railing talking to Dave and admiring the views of the sun starting to set over the ocean and Leon Dormido (also known as kicker rock). 

After a few minutes, I stepped backward as I was talking and I suddenly felt nothing beneath my right foot.

I was suddenly falling for what seemed like forever with no end in sight.

My left leg stayed on top and bent, twisting my foot in the meantime.

I finally stopped and felt immediate pain in my shin.

My left leg and backpack seemed to break my fall. 

My leg bent normal at the knee but my foot got caught under my leg and twisted. 

I started screaming in pain for Dave to get me out of the hole to stop the pain.

The Fall

As I’m screaming, the three tourists also came running and the one guy helped Dave pull me out. 

We found out the two were named Marquicio & Ana, and they were from Uruguay. 

Luckily they spoke English and Spanish which turned out to be super helpful. I stood on one foot leaning against the railing in immense pain. 

The one went looking for help as the other two stayed with us chatting with us. 

After a few minutes, one of the National Park workers came and asked us who we were/where we were staying and what not. 

She called someone and said that they would be sending an ambulance, but had to get back to her tour group. We waited around for 10-15 minutes or so and decided to try to walk back to the entrance. 

With my arms around Dave and Marquicio, I started to kind of hop to walk. 

We didn’t get very far before three National Park workers showed up. Marquicio translated a lot for us which was SO helpful. I am so grateful that they were there! 

They wrapped my leg in an ace bandage that Ana & Marquicio handed to us if we needed it. They also kind of tied it up to hold my leg up. 

Then they told Dave & Marquicio to carry me. 

So between Dave & Marquicio and two of the park rangers, they kept alternating carrying me. 

They kept asking how I was and I was just laughing saying I was fine and felt like a Queen being carried. 

The poor guys were definitely sweaty carrying me though!

Medical Help

After maybe 15 minutes of alternating carrying me, medical staff showed up with a stretcher and strapped me in and wheeled me off. 

It seemed to take forever to get out of the park. 

Maybe another 15 minutes or so. 

We finally reached the ambulance and they said only one could ride in. I considered taking Marquicio for a quick second for translation purposes. 

I, of course, wanted Dave there, so he hops in and we head off.

The ambulance ride was quick and we arrived at the hospital within a few minutes. I was wheeled into a room where they were asking some questions and for our passport information. 

Since we didn’t speak much Spanish about injuries, Google Translate became key to talking with medical staff in the hospital.

Google Translate

Then they took me for X-Rays where they said I broke my Tibia in 3 places. I honestly didn’t think I broke it, I just thought maybe it was a bad sprain or something.

Hospital Visit

Dave went off to get me some water and I hear him talking to someone. 

All of a sudden our hotel owner shows up in the room! 

Harry and his wife, Lucrecia were so sweet to show up. I’m guessing that the National Park alerted them after we told them we were staying at Galapagos Eco Friendly.

Harry and Lucrecia went above and beyond hospitality out of any place I have ever been to. 

They translated for us when the doctors were in the room, stating that they wanted me to stay in the hospital overnight to watch the swelling on my leg. 

He then went on to ask if I needed anything and took Dave back to the hotel to get my clothes and also brought him to get some food. 

Harry brought Dave back to the hospital and told him to text him when he was needed a ride back.

Medical Cost

After a while, one of the staff came in and I asked her how much it was all going to cost (using my best “money” symbol with my fingers) and she replied “Nada”. 

I thought maybe she was confused, so I typed it in google translate. 

Her response was “Medical attention is free in Ecuador”. 

I was shocked. 

We were so nervous that it was going to be super expensive and relieved knowing we wouldn’t owe a thing.

Less than an hour later they came back with some plaster and start putting the cast on leg. 

It was SO painful as they had to turn my foot to a 90-degree angle. I was not given any pain killers. When I arrived, they asked me if I was in pain and I said I was fine, so they gave me 2 Tylenol. 

After setting the cast I was definitely crying in pain and the nurse came in and set me up with an IV of some type, then eventually gave me some shot to help with the pain. I slept for maybe 2 or 3 hours and they kept checking on me to see if there was swelling in my foot/leg. They wanted me to make sure I would be okay to travel as we were flying out in a few hours. 

I was released early AM on Friday morning. Dave & Harry’s wife came by to get me. She spoke with the hospital to borrow the wheelchair so I could get around while at the hotel. Then they gave us a first-floor room so I could get around to it and shower and get ready for the day which was super nice since we were leaving shortly. I was able to shower and pack our stuff while Dave ran to town the last time. 

Lucrecia drove us to the airport and got a wheelchair for me and we headed off to Quito for the night.

We were already planning on flying out of the islands the following day, so we never really had to alter our plans. The break happened on Thursday, Friday we spent the night in Quito and did a day tour to see the Equator, and then we had a flight Saturday night at midnight.

Between everyone that helped us during the accident, I am so grateful and thankful for each and every person. They were some of the kindest people I have ever met. 

Final Thoughts

Breaking my leg was not ideal on vacation. 

We typically NEVER are the type to purchase travel insurance either. We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve which provides us with some type of travel/medical insurance. So, we usually opt-out. 

However, on this trip, Dave did actually purchase some Trip Insurance for our scuba diving. It also happened to include Medical Coverage. 

Luckily since we did not have to pay for medical insurance in Ecuador, we did not need to use any of it. 

In the future though, we absolutely will be reconsidering our travel insurance coverage for incidents like this!

We were super fortunate to be in a country where medical costs are actually fairly reasonable, but that we did not have to pay for anything.

The final “Bill” received was for about $250, and stated that the government paid for it. 

We never had to pay.

Be sure to protect yourself when you go on a trip! You never know when something can happen (even in the middle of the world) and you need to plan accordingly. 

Life Changes

As the months have gone by and I cross 4 months since breaking my leg, I am walking again.

I am moving forward.

I am not 100% yet, but I know I will get there.

I just wanted to reflect on those who were there for me. 

I truly appreciate each and everyone who was there for me.

Thank you to the kindness of Strangers

Thank you to the National Park Workers.

Thank you to the Medical Staff 

Thank you to Galapagos Eco Friendly

Thank you to all of the airport employees who wheeled me around.

Thank you to the Cab driver who drove around Quito, Ecuador to find me Mulatas.

Thank you to the Sebastion, who took us on a day tour the following day and helped hold my leg in and out of the vehicle.

Thank you to my parents, friends, family, and people who called/texted/visited.

Thank you to Bryce & Alexandria, and the 10xTravel crew who helped aid in our search for insurance coverages.

Thank you to Julie & Kelsey, people who I have only talked to online over the years but still sent me gifts/cards.

Thank you Jenny for bringing me lunch and keeping me company.

Thank you AnnMarie for picking me up to get me out of the house even though we never met and you lived over an hour away.

Thank you Kim & Peter for the many chats about breaking our legs and hanging out with Old Man River

Thank you to Ken, who had many heart to hearts with me about breaking our legs and finding the good again in it.

Thank you to Leanne who I seriously don’t know where I would be if you didn’t get me out of the house as much as you did.

Most of all, Thank you to Dave, who has stood by my side each and every day. As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. You continue to amaze me each day and I appreciate you beyond words.

Don’t forget to check out how Breaking my Leg also got me to Italy!

And how we flew to Japan in First Class on ANA (while also recovering)

I even have some tips for traveling with an Injury.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings and MileValue may receive a commission from card issuers. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The comments section below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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