June 30, 2012
The last full day of this trip has arrived and it is business as usual. Sergio wanted to get an early start as we have many house calls and the photojournalists are with us today. These ladies are so professional and hard working and will get in any awkward position to capture this story and Don Sergio kindly obliges them. So, off we go to see our the eight patients for the day shift.
Yesterday, we went out to Zinacantan to see an elderly woman who is not feeling well and quit eating and we were to meet another man with a skin condition. The latter did not meet us at the locale he mentioned so we headed to the home of the former. Turns out bisabuelita (great grandmother) has an intestinal ailment and needs a proper work-up; there is nothing we can do for her. This is a perfect example of having to understand the cultural differences. These Zinacantanecas/Tzotziles trust Don Sergio more than they do the hospital but if he tells them to go, they will (well, might).
Before we left the museo this morning, our crippled patient with the large cancerous tumor growing out his right thigh arrived for a bandage change. The smile and happiness in this man's face is infectious. His condition is terminal and he is unaware but seems to have a peace about him. Don Sergio speaks to him in Tzotzil afterwards and knowing we have a full day, he is in no hurry. Afterwards we see our usual diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers and our one burn patient and we're done by 1:30 pm.
|Arriving at the Tzotiles' home a shy boy greets us and helps Don Sergio carry a box of clothing he brought for the family.|
Our Tzotzil patient with the knee injury was also on our list and visiting this home is welcoming and a pleasure. The Tzotzil women welcome me kindly and the shy, curious children run up to Don Sergio to help carry his supplies up the narrow trail. After we're done with our wound care, we are asked to sit and eat. They put two small chairs, a table with a tablecloth outside and place homemade blue corn tortillas and a couple of omelets on top. Two days before they served us "los puntos" — the distal end of the chayote plant in soup form with homemade tortillas. Although this is not the cleanest environment I cannot refuse this incredible kind offering and I follow Don Sergio's lead. I do not want to offend as these poor people offer me one of their most valuable gifts: food. The effort to continuously feed their large family can be time consuming, costly and at times inconsistent. They let us eat as they stood in the one-room house and watched us.
|Tzotzil girl watches on, her Asian features are remarkable.|
|Mayan hand-made blue corn tortillas with an omelet on top. For the family to serve us their eggs is quite an offering.|
|Previous meal served was los puntos soup with corn tortillas. To drink is apple juice - I'm not a fan of this as it has a higher content of sugar but it may be cheaper and easier for them than to extract juice from a local and accessible plant.|
The women knew it was my last day and one of them touched my hands and arms with the lightest contact as she expressed her gratitude for my coming. No words need be said, the touch conveyed everything.
The evening clinic has not been as busy as times before but the rainy season has started and many people do not like to get out in the rain. Bela had recommended to her new guests that they go to Don Sergio's museo for a tour and a few people we had met throughout the week also showed up. As he gave his tour I took care of the patients. Our local friends that come to hang out at the museo showed up and we sat and talked for quite a while. I said my goodbyes to them and to Don Sergio. Hasta pronto!