miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2009

Our Medicine Man

Ding-dong. Ding-dong.

Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong!

Now, before last year, I had never lived in a house in Mexico. I don't know if because it's a house, or it's Saltillo, or because our house is near the railroad tracks, or because we live in a nice neighborhood, or because we live in a house in a nice neighborhood in Saltillo near the railroad tracks, but almost daily someone rings our doorbell asking for something. Not usually this insistently, though.

Often, people sell things door-to-door. My favorite door-to-door seller is the fruit man who, once a month or so, convinces me to buy more fruit than I honestly believe the three of us can consume in a reasonable amount of time for a bit more than I would pay at the grocery store. However, it does come delivered right to our door. And it's always absolutely delicious.

I also bought our mailbox from a man ringing all the doorbells on my street. Many people peddle brooms and cleaning supplies door-to-door. There also appears to be an army of women in this city who appear willing to provide re-financing and modest loans to almost anybody--I can only imagine the interest rates!

However, as I mentioned that we live a few blocks from the railroad, lots of people stop by asking to do any odd job for a bit of spare change as they make their way to the US from Central America (usually Honduras). In exchange for a few pesos and sandwiches, the clunker that sits in our driveway gets its monthly bath.

Ding-dong.
Ding-dong.
Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong-Ding-dong!

But none of these people ring the doorbell quite as frantically as this. When we hear the doorbell that won't shut up, we know that our medicine man is back.

We met the medicine man about a month ago. As I was paying the Domino's Pizza delivery guy, a man who collects cardboard was standing nearby and mentioned that his stomach had been hurting. Would I have anything that could help? Thinking of Alka-Seltzer, I initially told him, sorry, no. But then I thought about it and remembered that we did have some Lomotil.

(Side note: Lomotil is the best diarrhea medicine out there. Forget Pepto-Bismol. If you go anywhere in Mexico and are worried about getting diarrhea, go to any pharmacy and get Lomotil. Take one if you've got some slight symptoms, two if it's full-blown. If you take two at once and it's not seriously diarrhea, you'll get backed up for the better part of a week.)

So I told medicine man to wait, went and got the Lomotil, cut him two tablets out of the pack (in case his symptom weren't really Lomotil-worthy, I didn't want to worsen his condition if he were to take too many), gave him those along with a glass of water. He asked if I'd be home the following day, in case he needed more. I assured him that I would be around.

The next day, we heard the first ringing of the persistent doorbell. As I was feeding Clara, I told Mario that medicine man might be back for more Lomotil. So he went out and talked to the man, gave him the rest of what we had (it wasn't much), and both went their merry ways.

A week later the doorbell rang again. Again, Mario answered and stood outside talking quite awhile. Through the open window, I could hear the loud yet wheezy voice and knew that Medicine Man was back. I don't know what he wanted, but Mario was outside for at least a half hour. [note: Mario enjoys listening to people. When he would visit me at NPH he'd get holed up on a bench with a kid for the better part of an hour, just listening to them. I'd be afraid that he was getting bored and thank him for his patience. He'd counter, "they just really need someone to listen to them."] This must also be true of the medicine man. After two or three lengthy visits from the Medicine Man, I asked Mario what it is they talk about.

"Ah, a little bit of anything."

Reflecting a bit longer, he added, "I really do like him."