The witch doctor mixed medicine for me today.
Ok, so she’s not really a witch doctor. She’s only a chiropractor.
She was recommended to me by my yoga instructor, and what with the foot injury and the ear pain, I was really happy to follow up.
The place was a long way from my neighborhood–clear across town, a $90 peso UBER trip, in a neighborhood next to the river. We couldn’t locate the house number from the GPS so I got down and walked around for maybe 15 minutes and called her twice before I finally located the house.
I knocked at the door. Someone opened it and invited me to come in and sit down.
The door opened directly into a room filled with furniture including a huge dining table surrounded by eight imposing chairs. Five or six people sat at the table. There was maybe eighteen inches of space between the chairs and the wall of the adjoining room, and occupying that space were a toddler and a small bicycle.
I considered the invitation to sit.
The elderly man at the table–apparently the grandfather of this abode–beckoned to the child to move, and indicated that I should sit in the chair next to him.
I squeezed past the bicycle and sat.
The women (everyone there was a woman except for el abuelo) chatted. I looked around.
There was a huge side-by-side refrigerator in the corner of the street wall. Against the wall behind the table was a china cabinet filled with knick-knacks and crystal and china, the shelves adorned with crocheted doilies. On top of the china cabinet, matching sets of Tupperware bowls alternated with stacks of covered Pyrex casserole dishes. Cases of juice from Sam’s in boxes and bottles were stacked on a buffet that sat side-by-side with the china cabinet. A contemporary painting of The Last Supper hung on the wall above the sideboard on the third wall above a tiered serving stand loaded with cakes and cookies.
If there had been a clock on the wall (amazingly, amongst all that bric-a-brac, there wasn’t) I would have heard it ticking like the Tell-Tale Heart. Anxiety began to rise from my belly into my chest.
What was I doing? Who had recommended this to me? Had I not thought this through, or what?
I wondered if leaving now would be an unforgivable faux pas.
I remembered my intention to feel all my experiences. Tried to keep my breath even. A client came out of the back room with the doctor. The whole group of women except one said their goodbyes and left.
The doctor was a barrel-shaped woman with hair greased and held back with claw clips. She looked at me really strangely, as if she might be thinking, “WTF is this gringa doing in my house?”
She asked who had recommended her. I explained that it was my yoga teacher. She nodded, still staring at me. Then she took the other client with her and left the room.
The child had disappeared. Now it was just me and grandfather.
I looked again at all the stuff. I wondered who cleaned.
After a few moments I said, “Muchas cosas bonitas.”
He said, “You think this is something? Look here!” He got up and pulled aside a curtain, revealing the living room or “el salón.”
He said it in Spanish, but I got it. And holy cow, he was right.
It was a small room, also crammed with furniture and bicycles and a motorized Barbie car. There were figurines and what-nots floor to ceiling with no apparent theme. I saw unicorns and elephants and dolls and photographs in frames. Again I wondered, Who cleans all this?
to be continued