This morning, I met Maria at 7am at Parque Central, to go for her eye-examination at Hermano Pedro Hospital. After a four hour wait, Maria was seen. It was a bit tricky because she doesn't read numbers very well so the eye-examination was tricky. It turns out she does not have cataracts but damage from the sun, impaired sight and perhaps some "corpulence/fleshiness" (the Spanish word is "carnosidad"). This is a bit of a blow because Hermano Pedro only does cataract surgery, so if Maria does need surgery she will have to go to a private clinic. On the other hand, it is good news that she doesn't have cataracts, but the bad news is that the damage done from sun exposure is irreversible; she can only prevent further damage by wearing suitable glasses. I am going to go with her to another clinic next week to get a second opinion. Finances are not the issue, as I am taking care of that. The issue is getting time off from work...it is ridiculous that that is one of the major hurdles here.
After the clinic, we swung through the Mercado to pick up bananos and tomates - a very visceral experience. I had never been to that part of the Mercado before. Stinky, crowded, great. I went to Maria's home in the hills of Pastores, a town about 20 min from Antigua, but worlds away. The photos show just how poor her living conditions are. I almost couldn't make it up to her house because the path is very very long and steep. I had to pause several times. But I am glad I made it. I felt very welcome. I dined on tortillas, avocado (aguacate) and salt - it was very tasty, as we sat on rickety chairs on the dirt outside her shack - because that's what she lives in. The bus ride on the camunetta was a trip too. Quite a day.
|I couldn't capture just how awesomely visceral the bus ride was. This is the bus when it was "empty"|
|Lots of corrugated iron adorns Maria's neighbourhood.|
|Maize and frijoles are grown in the hills above her home.|
|The pathway up to her home. Couldn't capture how steep it is.|
|Neighbouring homes. They are palaces compared to Maria's.|
|Front door of Maria's "house"|
|The living room/kitchen/dining room|
|The space she shares with her son are just beyond. The flash from the camera make the place look deceptively bright. It is actually very dark.|
Still a lot to do to make sure Maria's follows through on her eyes.