This week my body finally gave up and screamed with fever and pain. Too much stress, work, entertaining, multi tasking, visitors, dancing and tequila! Too much excessive Mexican vacation mentality combined with big city work ethic. Add to this all the normal reflections and emotional awakening of another mid life birthday coming up, and it was too much for me on all levels.
So I did what I normally do and went to the Farmacia to self medicate with as much of different drugs that I know have worked in the past. To relieve the pain and fever, to help sleep, antibiotics and various other remedies that promise better health. Take a different concoction ever 2 hours when I am conscious and crawl back into bed. This lasted 4 days, and then my friend Brenda dragged me to see the doctor to get a vitamin shot.
I have never been to a doctor in Loreto. We stopped first at the Clinic where there was a line up of about 8 young women with children and a few men. The procedure as explained to me was to register at the reception to see the doctor. Then wait your turn. Once the doctor saw you and made his diagnosis, he would write a prescription or ticket for the shot. Then you went back to wait in the line to see the receptionist, who filled your prescription and you paid for it. Once you paid you would take a seat and wait. Then the nurse would come and give you the shot! Why is everything so freaking complicated!! Never mind. I said it was safer to be sick than run the risk of having an aneurism waiting and watching this painful process in slow motion. It is a public clinic and I should not complain, but I also had a choice to seek out the doctors’ office.
So we crawled in the car and went to the doctor’s office only to find he wasn’t in. He was at the Clinic!! Geesh Louise!!
There are four doctors in Loreto and sometimes they are all out of town at once. I have heard they are very good and serve a population of 15,000 so no one begrudges them taking time away, but surely there is enough incentive for more qualified practitioners to come to the area? How will they possibly fill the new hospital with staff?
This is Loreto, and somehow we all manage to get the care, treatments and tests we need. It does help to keep your sense of humor, have plenty of cash on hand, and be prepared to be ready to travel to Constitution or La Paz if need be.
I remember as a young child growing up in Victoria, my mother’s first stop in times of illness was to go to Chinatown and see the Herbalist. She would wait in line after all the others to explain her particular ailment and he would quickly make a very specific calculated concoction from the wall of jars behind him. He would weigh precise portions of dried herbs, plants and sometimes animal parts and then tenderly wrap them in a folded paper packet. The contents would soon be made into a strong broth that would smell up the entire house with unpleasant scents and we would be forced to drink it. Why did medicine always have to be so bitter and taste so foul? The older siblings were allowed to put a few tablespoons of whisky in the broth for medicinal purposes, and this is where I learned to drink at an early age.
When I had a fever, my mother would take a boiled egg and put a silver quarter in the middle of the yolk. Wrap it in a handkerchief and dip it in Hennessy Brandy, then rub my back, chest, and face with this device to bring out the fever. When my fever was high, the silver quarter would turn black as night, but as I got better the coin only slightly turned color. This home remedy is no longer used because there are no more silver coins in distribution and now we just eat the egg for protein and drink the brandy for medicinal purposes. Are we seeing a pattern here?
My mother would be very firm and had little patience with my squirming and complaining, but she still took the time to worry about me when I was sick. It is the Chinese culture to always worry about things outside our control, about our future and unknowns, about our past and how our indiscretions will be viewed by our ancestors, about what people think and say, and pretty much everything else. It is the damned if you do, damned if you don’t syndrome, but above all else … be gracious, be respectful, and never let them see you vulnerable.
Being sick allows us the opportunity and license to be melancholy and this week I have taken full advantage of that. It is okay not to be phenomenal every day. I need to be kinder to myself and accept that some times it is okay to just be selfish instead of trying to worry about others all the time. The older we get, the more women become their Mothers. OMG!!
My good deed this week was when this young man of 18 years came into my office yesterday afternoon asking if his mother had made him a hotel reservation. I said no, but we did have rooms for $50 if he needed one. He said he would check a few others and maybe come back. Sure no problem. He did come back and politely asked if he could leave his bags while he went to the ATM since we do not take credit cards and he only had $30 US on him. Sure no problem. I tell him to go to Café Ole where he can get a good cheap meal and take his time coming back. He comes back and looks down trodden. The ATMs at the Bank are out of money. Yes, this happens a lot on a long weekend in Loreto. When the ATMs are out of money, there’s not a thing you can do except to wait until the banks open on Monday. I ask him what is his story?
He tells me he is from California and has been on a school trip camping and kayaking for the last several weeks. He and a buddy got caught drinking on their first night into town and they were both expelled from the trip and dumped in Loreto with no money or way home. How is this possible? And what was their crime? The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, and boys will be boys. Yes, rules must be followed and discipline can be enforced, but you do not leave 18 year olds stranded in a foreign country with no money and no way home? It was a good thing that the tour was no longer in Loreto or they would have had a piece of me!! Fortunately, for this boy, his parents came to his rescue and bought him an airplane ticket home for the next day. I asked him what he was going to do, and he said he had his sleeping bag and he could find a place to sleep outside somewhere. I looked at his expensive duffel bags of gear and his sad face, and said No Way. He would stay at the hotel. I told him of the ATM at the Pescador Grocery Store and if he could get money to pay me, great. If not, then not to worry about it. It was only one night. If he needed a ride to the airport, then I would take him myself as well because he did not have the $20 for the cab ride. He could not believe his luck and his face lit up.
Sure enough he was able to get money from the 3rd ATM and promptly paid me. He asked if he could pay for the phone to call his mother and I said of course, without taking money. His mother called me an Angel and was ever so thankful. For what? A simple random act of kindness that I would pray someone would do for my daughter if she were in need.
What shocked me most was that the other boy’s parents were so mad that he was caught drinking and expelled, that they told him he was on his own, apparently to teach him a lesson? Unfortunately, this other boy had already left Loreto and was on a bus to Ensenada where he would try to walk across the border and then find his way home to the East coast of the USA. What lesson did his parents think they were teaching him? How to steal? How to be scared, alone, and lost in a foreign country, and possibly see the worst side of people at bus stations, border crossings, and Tijuana? Do they really think that he will thank them for this lesson or rebel further against their teachings?
This young man that stayed at Nellie’s Hotel will think twice before doing something silly again because he knows how lucky he was to have people that were there and cared. Perhaps he will even pass along another Random Act of Kindness and make someone’s path a little brighter. It was my privilege to be here and make a small difference in his life, and put his mother’s mind at ease for another night.
Next Saturday, November 10, I will be celebrating my birthday at La Picazon Restaurant around 2 pm. Anyone who wants to wish me a happy birthday or join the party is invited! Come by boat, car, or dirt bike, and hopefully they will be open!!