A child goes missing and I’m back in hospital

“Bad things go in threes,” Pippa muttered to me gloomily as we walked across the playground.

The family had lost Hernan’s grandfather and, with the timing so typical of fate, Camilo’s two-month-old puppy had followed shortly afterwards.

It was a beautiful morning, our little school was soaked in the late dawn sunshine, but her words hung in the air.

Sure enough, within hours, her worried little face was peeking around the door of my classroom.

“We’ve lost a child,” she said.

“The police are out looking for her now.”

I didn’t need to ask which child.

Pippa had already told me about a little girl, four-years-old, who skips out of class to find her older sister before fleeing for home.

Pippa and the teacher had been watching her closely but with 25 children using the playground and an open gate she had managed to slip through the net.

Even more worringly, the child hadn’t bothered to find her sister and she wasn’t at home.

It was another hour before the police found her wandering the streets. Crisis averted.

Pippa and I were still feeling the after effects from our trip to Santa Cruz (‘reacting to different water’ is probably the polite way to say it).

I felt fine but when we got home Pippa, no doubt exhausted from the Missing Child Saga, collapsed onto her bed.

She fell asleep immediately.

I took her a glass of water and went for a walk to the port, one of my favourite places to spend an afternoon.

I returned home three hours later to find she had disappeared.

“Where’s Pippa?” I asked Camilo.

He shrugged as the telephone rang.

It was Paulina.

“Could you come to the hospital please?” she asked, sounding worried.

“Pippa’s here. She’s very sick and I want to make sure you are okay.”

I raced that now familiar route and found Pippa on the ward, hooked up to two drips (it probably says something that I now know the Spanish word for drip – suero).

I was treated to the sorry sight of her shuffling along, medical paraphernalia in tow, looking like a forlorn little old lady.

She collapsed back onto the bed, but there was not much time to talk because I was whisked away for my own examination.

“I’ve spent far too much time here,” I muttered to Paulina.

She gave a wry little smile.

The doctor took my temperature and my blood pressure and spent some time jabbing my stomach, which was enjoyable for everyone.

Finally she decided I was not as sick as Amoeba Girl, who’d managed to top her dengue temperature (38C) with a new personal best (39.1C)

(Pippa is now fully recovered, so I’m allowed to joke about it)

But still, how can paradise have so many pitfalls?

And how much time will I actually spend in the hospital before I leave this island?

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