The valley of the things that bite

“Ooouch!”

It felt like a bee sting, but then like a hammer.  I dropped the rock.

“Aye…es un alecran matalo!”

I saw the driver stomp on the tiny light yellow bug, as I realized what just happened.  I looked at the small droplet of blood on thumb and thought: “I just got stung by a scorpion.”

I looked at the driver and presented my thumb as if to say: “Please suck the venom out. Help me.”

The driver looked at me earnestly and wagged his finger and went back to changing the flat tire.  My thumb throbbed and my face started to tingle.

The driver finished changing the flat and we all piled in the car.  He drove us first to a small village building, where I saw a giant red cross.  “Thank goodness, I’m saved.”  I thought to myself.  The diver got of the car and told us to stay in the car.  He walked to the front of the clinic and  and used the payphone in front of the rural clinic.  “Are you serious? We came here to use the phone?” went through my head.

The driver returned to the car: “Es domingo todo estan cerrado.”  Learning that the clinic that could save my life was closed was less than inspiring.  My face grew numb and I couldn’t feel my hand anymore.

The drive sped off and weaved through winding streets. Things became blurry and I felt sleepy.

He parked on a steep dirt road and walked us up to the house. It was an open air house and a woman walked me in.  I couldn’t hear very well but they laid me down on a hammock in front.  She gave me a shot of something.

My mom and Sharleen thought I needed cheering up.  I don’t know how, but they came back with a Mariachi band.  They played passionately and sang with deep sonorous voices.  I couldn’t really make out the words of the band, my mother, or Sharleen.  I could hear Jackie laughing.  She always laughed.  My tongue started to swell and grew heavy.  I felt my heart slowing down. I closed my eyes. “So this is how it ends?  It could have been worse.” I thought.  Blackness.

Thankfully, people don’t usually die from scorpion stings.  I know that now.  It is a little worse than bee stings.  In a few hours I woke up and we continued to the mountains for a evening repast.   I wasn’t super hungry.

Looking back, I feel more shame than anything else that I didn’t get to thank the driver for going through extraordinary efforts to help me.  I didn’t even know his or  his friend’s name who went out of their way to help some stupid gringo who got himself stung in the valley of the things that bite.   They were good people, with good hearts.

I’ll certainly do better next time.

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