July 4, 2007

La Gringa, the gimp

crutchesMy crutches

Did I ever tell you about when I broke my foot?

I broke my foot a few years ago and was in a cast up to my knee for 6 weeks. The doctor told us to go to the public hospital to get some crutches but he didn't give me any advice about how to use them. I'm not very coordinated, as shown by breaking my foot going down three steps in my own home. I had a lot of trouble with the crutches, so El Jefe borrowed a wheel chair for me.

We have a lot of stairs in our home and for the first four weeks, I just couldn't figure out how to get down them on crutches. Every time I stood at the top of the stairs, all I could picture was me tumbling headfirst down them. I did eventually figure it out and boy, did I feel stupid!

I spent most of the time upstairs with the computer. We didn't have internet then, but I managed to edit and organize around 2,000 recipes that I had been saving for years and years. Later we lost our hard drive and I lost all that hard work because I was waiting to finish before I copied it to a CD. Boy, did I feel stupid. :-(

Some interesting things happened the few times that I did go out.

We found that the elevator at the mall didn't work. I was in a wheel chair that time because I knew I wouldn't make it wobbling all over the mall on crutches. A nice teenage boy helped me up the escalator while El Jefe followed with the folded wheelchair and shopping bag.

Another day, while I was on crutches in the Fiesta import store, a well-dressed woman shoved me out of her way. I only saw her from the back. I noticed her lime-green clothes but didn't recognize her. Later on at a grocery store, I said "Look, El Jefe, that's the woman that pushed me!" He said, "Do you know who that is? That is xxxx." Xxxx is one of the wealthiest women in La Ceiba and we have been to her home!

During the same trip to the grocery store, a young woman also shoved me. So much for consideration for the handicapped! − I know this is incredible to believe, but it is true.

What could be so urgent in a grocery store that someone couldn't just say "Perdon" (pardon me) and wait two seconds for a handicapped person to step out of their way? I was really flabbergasted by this behavior. My handicap was minor and temporary, but I couldn't help but think about how it must feel to be treated like this on a daily basis.

Tired of being pushed around, I watched for her on the next aisle. Just as I neared her, one of my crutches inexplicably slipped out from under me and whacked her a good one in the shins. I apologized profusely. I could tell that she was really in pain.

Once when crossing a busy street while on crutches, a taxi driver stopped and held traffic for me to cross. This was the most amazing of all my experiences as our taxi drivers aren't exactly known for courtesy − there are some exceptions, though.

I also found out just how handicapped-unfriendly La Ceiba is. Some of the curbs on the street corners are 12-18 inches high. Many stores can only be entered by climbing one or more steps. Then there are all of the open sewer boxes and mismatched levels of concrete in the sidewalks.

It was terrible being so dependent even though El Jefe was up to the task. He was great and even cooked for me sometimes! But, I never walk down stairs without thinking about that accident and being very, very careful.

Guess what made me think to write this article? I fell down the stairs again! I don't know how it happened. I think it was the swarm of chihuahuas circling around my feet. This time it was only one step and I landed exactly on one knee − luckily the swelling went down over night and I only have a couple of small bruises. What a klutz!

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