January 14, 2009

First sick animals, now sick people

Today the maid came to me and asked for some pills for her sister’s headache and oh, by the way, did I have a smaller hypodermic syringe. She asked this while holding an unused larger syringe in its wrapper in her hand. I leaned over to look at it, complete with needle, and almost wanted to faint. This is the second time since August when we first arrived that she has asked me if I had a syringe. I find this really weird especially since I don’t stock syringes and she doubtless has to know everything that is in my drawers by now (I mean, she knew where the tape measure was the second week I was here and that wasn’t because I had shown it to her). Then it occurred to me that early on the carpenter wanted a syringe also. I am now beginning to wonder if most people just buy syringes here like we buy Bandaids in the U.S. Maybe it’s cheaper to give yourself a shot than to go to a clinic or doctor, and people don’t have the money to spend for that kind of thing. I don't know why she needed the syringe or what her ailment is.

So ok, call me a glutton for punishment. It occurred to me after this conversation that perhaps the maid was trying to get me to offer to buy a syringe for her. Later in the kitchen I asked her if she needed money to buy one. Oh no, Senora I used the one I had after all. I need two shots a day she said. You know you will need a new syringe each time you have an injection I said. You shouldn’t reuse the one you used. Oh but I did she said, why not? Well its not sterilized said I, you could get an infection. It is a bad thing to do. These are the same people that think you that if you boil a chicken it can sit out overnight because it’s been boiled. I shudder to think what they don't know. I wonder if I should be teaching them classes in hygiene? I did go on the internet and find a World Health Organization guide to keeping food in Spanish which I posted on the refrigerator door. When the girls came back from break and found it to read I could hear alot of laughter which makes me think that they really didn't get it. It's sort of scary.

They are really big on shots here. For instance, I sent the cook home the other day with a bad cold when she looked like she was on death’s door, and I didn't want her spreading germs around. I figured I would be cooking for the next few days. The following day she was back at work completely well. I never saw anyone change from really sick to well so fast. She told me she had had two shots in the same day, and that they really hurt, but it was worth it because she was well. I hope I don’t get sick down here!! I don’t really like shots. And I don't want to give myself my own shot either.

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