Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fangs For The Memory

Yesterday we went on a drive up onto the Meseta Purépecha from Pátzcuaro. We turned off the Libre highway that goes to Uruapan, at Pichátaro.



In Pichátaro, I spotted this sign, which may have been premonitory.








The countryside is magnificent altiplano. Susan and I had passed through this are in March of 2006, and we'd not had time to stop and look more closely at the brooding upland pueblos of Sevina, Nahuatzen and Cheran. This time we did the route in reverse, so after we descended some from the higher elevations, we stopped in Sevina.

There doesn't seem to be much for the visitor to see in Sevina. The main attraction is an ancient church with a painted stave ceiling. It is one of the most primitive old churches we've visited in Mexico. After looking around the meager Plaza, and watching a woman gut and cut up fish on a stump chopping block, I was ready to go. Yes, I also needed to take a leak.
I walked around, looking for a restaurant or public facility, but found none. So, finally, I asked a guy standing on a corner if there were any sanitarios públicos cerca. No, no hay. He invited me to go to his house a half block away and use the facility there. I sized up the situation quickly, and decided that this was a sincere offer. Remember, this is a small, traditional, Purépecha pueblo. We entered the door to the courtyard. There was a horse, a strong barnyard smell, and a young woman washing clothes by hand in a lavadero. The sanitary facilty was a three-sided outhouse structure, with a burlap curtain flap door. I'd been in similar before, so I wasn't disconcerted, although it was a little "rough". I took care of my need. He reached in with a handful of TP, but I didn't need it.

When I stepped out, I said, "Gracias." I wondered if I should pay him anything.

Suddenly, ZOW!!, something struck my right leg below the hip. There was a mean looking, snarling dog glowering at me. I thought at first he'd only struck at me, but when I got back to the car, we conducted a discreet exam inside the car. There were two fang marks. The skin was punctured. So we washed it with alcohol hand sanitizer gel, then went to look for a doctor. The local doctor was in Nahuátzen, further north. We decided to turn back to Pátzcuaro, 45 minutes to an hour away, where our compañeros Mexicanos, Alfredo and Guadalupe (who operate the Hotel Mesón de San Antonio) knew a good doctor.

Alfredo and I had gone over to talk to the dog's owner and look at the dog, who by then was sleeping peacefully on the sidewalk. Maybe I'd surprised him when I'd come out of the sanitario, flapping the curtain open. The owner told us that the dog had been vaccinated against rabies. ¿Quien sabe?

Back in Pátzcuaro, we navigated the heavy Friday market traffic near the Plaza San Francisco. I waited a short time in the modern waiting room of Dr. Garcés, internista. He cleansed the area, applied a local anesthetic, then cut a small "X" over the punctures in order to let blood wash it out. Then he dried it and applied a light dressing. He also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic cream that actually cost more than the exam and treatment.

I can remove the dressing today when I bathe. I have a return visit for Monday to his consultorio. He recommended that we return to Sevina and, failing to kill the dog and take its head, we should observe it to see that it is still healthy.

After a good enough night's sleep, I feel fine. We have been applying more antibiotic creme at intervals. We are planning a return visit to Sevina to observe the dog's health. I learned on the Thorn Tree, Mexico Branch, that rabies inoculations for dogs are either free or at low cost. That was encouraging. The owner should have a certificate of vaccination, although I have some doubts that he could produce it if asked to do so.

Just another slice of life in "The Real México".

UPDATE: A Hair of the Dog
Monday after the Friday when I was bitten, I returned to the Pátzcuaro doctor who had treated me. He looked at the wound and told me it was healing nicely. We discussed the unlikely possibility of rabies. I left, feeling much more confident.

Yesterday, we returned to Sevina, where our friends Alfredo and Lupe inquired of local people on my behalf. We went to the house where the dog had bitten me. The Señora was very nice. I saw the dog, calmly sleeping on the patio, in front of the out house. I am nearly perfectly satisfied that I am out of danger.

This revisit gave me a new leash on life.

4 comments:

Jonna said...

Michael, that was scary! I hope that you and the dog are both fine and no rabies shots needed.

From now on, use the side of the road or a building like the rest of the men in Mexico ;)

Michael Warshauer said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Jonna. I did look around for an appropriate wall, etc, but there was nothing that wasn't right out in the open. I had some cultural inhibitions, too, especially in such a traditional pueblo.

Michael Dickson said...

Mike, Mike, Mike. Men do not need a bathroom in Mexico to piss. Any ole where will do, preferably along a roadside.

The chances of that mutt having received shots are between zero and none. Happily, the chances of his having rabies are minuscule too. Probably would not be living with a family if he had. Just an ornery cur who does not like Gringos.

Dr. Garcés is a very good doctor.

I wish you a speedy mend.

Michael Warshauer said...

Thank you for your comments.
From now on, I will heed Carl Franz' motto (slightly modified): Wherever you need to go; there you are.
http://peoplesguide.com/
Saludos,
Mike