Let me tell you what’s wonderful about this place. What could it be, you wonder. Will he talk about the weather? the scenery? the people?
All of those are good guesses, but today I would like to talk about the joy that is socialized medicine. I’m sure there are problems and one of them is certainly the term “socialized,” but our interaction with medicine New Zealand-style was great. First of all, everyone is covered. Chris, who is not from New Zealand for those of you who don’t know Chris, was run off a gravel road by a crazy driver. That probably sounds worse than it was, but that’s the secret to good story telling. A little hyperbole here, an exaggerated fact there, and suddenly a peaceful ride along a dirt road becomes a harrowing experience.
Anyway, he fell on his hand about a week ago and has lost most of the strength. Some of you will think this is serious and tragic. It’s not. It’s hilarious. I get to watch him struggle with a fork, struggle with the zipper on his shirt, struggle to brake safely as we descend steep hills. Hilarious. Okay, maybe the last one is a bit serious, but bikes have two sets of brakes for a reason.
We were trying to take a bus to Wellington today, but there was no space for our bikes which was really a deal-breaker. Instead we wandered on down the block to a building labeled The Doctors. I’ll let you guess what was inside. We went to the desk, described what had happened, and three minutes later Chris was sitting in an examination room.
The whole cost? Twenty-five dollars (and those are New Zealand dollars, it was $13 American).
For the curious ones among you, he has strained his lateral tendons and may have inflamed some of the nerves in his arm. If it’s not better in six weeks, we’ll find another clinic and he’ll be taking care of for twelve dollars. Amazing.
Chris laughing at his bill and the entire experience.
The woman we were staying with described the wonders of socialized medicine and reasonable pension plans and all things New Zealand. All I could think about was how much it all cost and how it was paid for. She seemed to anticipate my question and explained “Of course it helps when you’re not paying to build nuclear weapons and fight illegal wars.” There it is. As a country, the United States has chosen war and destruction over education, medicine, science, and infrastructure. What a choice.
This is why travel is important. It allows you to see other systems, meet other people, and experience the roads not taken. It makes you a better citizen of the world and of your community. The world is a big place and you should always try to see more of it than you have. And there the lesson ends.