As Reesa said, the couple who picked us up to drive us from El Paso to Jaurez were exceptionally nice. Up until then my arrangements with the medical group (medicaltourismco.com) had been very professional in feel; but this felt personal and family-like; in part because of the child car-chair in the back seat. I suppose this ought to be have bothered me, but in fact it was reassuring.
We drove past the border easily enough, seeing the rows and rows and rows of cars waiting to cross back into the US. My hosts made a remark about new laws at the border, and how long the wait was to cross. I muttered, “Bush!” and they laughed and nodded. It seemed that one word, my expression of contempt for Bush, at once caused the relaxation of a certain tension I hadn’t even been aware of, as if they suddenly went, “All right, these two are some of the good guys.”
Some of my prejudices were challenged, others reinforced. For an example of the latter, as we drove through a considerable part of Jaurez, I kept waiting to see a part of the city that didn’t cry out: The poor live here. I didn’t see one. Poor walls, run-down looking small housing, signs of neglect were in each of the many neighborhoods we passed through, making me feel like a privileged American. Which I am, in fact; that it was my comparative poverty that drove me to make this health-care choice does nothing to change my comparative wealth relative to so many of those I passed. While I curse the American health-care system, which caters to those better off than I; I am also aware that, by the standards of most of the world, I am a wealthy man. This is something I knew before, but now it hits me in face. It is humbling.
Walking into the mall the night before surgery, we saw a teen-age couple sneak into a spot underneath a stairway to make out in semi privacy. My biggest regret of the trip is that I didn’t grab Reesa and go make out in the spot next to them; thought of it just too late.
For those who
are as shallow as I enjoy watching people, I have two remarks: one, the Mexican girls (and most of the women) in the mall wear too much makeup, and, two, Mexican men (and many of the boys) are beautiful. I mean, damn! I want to look like that. The only drawback is how many of them seem to know how good-looking they are.
Other differences between a mall in the USA and the one in Jaurez had to be looked for. The first is that there are more whole families there, and they seemed to my eye to be really happy to be out together, and having fun. The second is a women’s fashion issue the only my practiced eye would have picked up: there were a good number of low-cut dresses and tops, and a quite reasonable number of extremely short skirts and shorts; but no bare midriffs, which is odd considering the heat, and I assume to be cultural.
As Reesa has said, the hospital is clean and modern, the room by far the nicest I’ve ever seen. I felt shame at being in a foreign country unable to speak the language, but I saw no signs of impatience or annoyance at it from the staff or those associated with me. I didn’t run into any other American patients in the hotel, but no doubt there were some.
They came and prepped me for surgery, which involved making me wear the same hospital gown every other hospital makes you wear, sticking an IV in my hand, a consultation with a very pleasant and professional anesthesiologist, and a transfer on my back onto a gurney. There was little waiting; little time for my nervousness to get to the panic point, if it wanted to. Down the elevator, reassuring smiles, and into the operating theater with all of those lights (not yet lit) staring down at me. Here we go.