Yesterday morning I sent out an urgent message on the ex-pat group website here in Guanajuato: Does anyone know where I can buy crutches??
I don’t often venture into the tunnels in Guanajuato. They’re dark and smelly, the traffic is fast, and I never feel really safe. But sometimes that’s the best place to find a taxi. Two days ago, on the second-last day of our daughter Erica’s visit, she and I headed underground to hail a cab. Her husband, Darren, was above-ground with Jack, standing in line at an ATM.
I descended quickly—and then noticed that Erica wasn’t with me. I turned around to see her huddled on a step halfway down, her head on her knees, rocking and moaning. She’d tripped on a stray paving stone and couldn’t put weight on her right foot. Sweat was pouring off her forehead and she was an unpleasant pasty colour.
Then he drove us as close to the door of our house as possible…which involves coming within inches of a sidewalk stairway.
Hopping and leaning, Erica managed to get into the living room where we could assess the damage and apply ice. Quite a bit of bruising and swelling. It didn’t look good, but we were sure it wasn’t broken.
Darren and Jack made their way home on foot, where they ran into a friend with a walking stick. When they told him the sorry story, he donated the stick—a broom handle, really—which Darren improved by taping a plastic wine-bottle-topper to the bottom.
The stick was perfect for getting back and forth to the bathroom and the supper table. But the more we thought about their long day of travel less tan 48 hours away, the more we felt she needed crutches. Hence, the online plea yesterday morning.
We received one quick response: check the Mega (the city’s biggest all-purpose supermarket, close to home). Indeed, they did have ONE crutch for a person five-foot-six or over. Not Erica. A friendly woman at the pharmacy counter directed us to an orthopaedic supply shop on the other side of town. But it was Sunday. Locked up tight. We checked a couple of the larger downtown farmacias. No luck.
Erica’s foot was throbbing, she could barely put weight on it, and she was facing a long day of travel—now in less than 24 hours.
This is the season for pilgrimages through this part of Mexico. Great crowds of people on foot and on bicycles clog the highways—and occasionally the streets in the city—en route to several nearby holy sites. Sometimes they carry little chapels on their shoulders. In an irreverent moment, it occurred to me that we might follow them and find a stash of crutches tossed aside by the faithful as their prayers were answered. But in the end, we settled for some very secular metal crutches hidden in a corner of the city’s other major supermarket.
So, off to the airport this morning, well before dawn, moving pretty well.
But a text message from the Mexico City airport two hours later included this photo—with a message that said they had to travel more than a kilometre to their gate—and how much do you tip a wheel-chair-pusher?
I haven’t a clue.
Now, about those steps. A loose paving stone was covering half of the stair, and the resulting 2-inch difference in height in the middle was nearly invisible in the dim light leading into the tunnel. When Darren got word that Erica had fallen, he came down to make sure we got a ride home. We had already left in the cab, but on the way down he found a second person who had tripped on the same step and fallen. Darren helped this second victim up and leaned the stone against the wall to prevent further disaster. It’s probably still there.
Mexico. Not a litigious society.