Let’s say you’re taking a nice, relaxing vacation. Maybe riding a motorcycle through the mountains of Peru on a rainy night with your special someone, enjoying the breathtaking vistas of the Andes as the shiny road speeds by under you. As the air gets thinner, you start to feel a little lightheaded, and next thing you know you’re nodding off. Your bike goes skidding off the road, throwing you and your partner into a farmer’s ditch.
When you come to, your legs are in explosive pain, and your friend isn’t doing much better. You have no idea where the nearest hospital is. All you know how to say in Spanish is ¿dónde está la biblioteca?, and while you’re not technically sure what a biblioteca is, you’re pretty sure it’s not an ER.
So what happens next? Well, that depends on where you are, who you’re with, and if your phone still works. Foreign physicians, hospitals, and health care systems don’t work like they do stateside, and getting injured abroad is a special kind of complicated.