Bureaucracy gives us a headache instead of fixing a knee

A few days ago, Yoli hurt her knee somehow when standing up to leave a restaurant. We’re not sure exactly what happened, but it swelled the next day and she couldn’t bend it much. Her family tried several different creams, but I’m not sure they did a lot to help.

So, yesterday we went to the Caja, which is a big health center for all workers who have national insurance. Yoli had made the appropriate insurance arrangements the day before and had secured an appointment. When we got there early in the morning, it was already packed with people.

The amount of bureaucracy was amazing. Every form had to be stamped by like three different people, it was truly crazy. Yoli was seen first by a general doctor who prescribed some medicine to reduce the swelling. She was then directed to go to a traumatologist. So after jumping through a few more bureaucratic hoops, we made our way to the traumatologist. But the nurse/secretary there told Yoli she couldn’t see him for at least 9 days. Yoli tried to show her the note she had from the general doctor, marked “urgent”, but she wouldn’t look at it.

So, we decided to fill the prescription and come back in the afternoon when there would be a different nurse. The pharmacy was at the corner of two hallways (making an L-shape), and the lines were confusing. There were 3 or 4 lines, we’re not really sure how many there were. at one point, our line appeared to have halted, so Yoli told me to wait in the line labelled “cronicos.” I ended up getting to the window first, so she handed me the prescription, whichI gave to the lady in the pharmacy. It was funny when she returned with the medicine and then gave me instructions on how to take it, which I only partially understood.

After that, we decided to visit Yoli’s uncle Adonai who lived nearby. He had a nice store and house (most people’s business and house are the same building) and we were having an interesting chat, but we were frequently interrupted as customers came in asking him to make photocopies. After hearing about Yoli’s knee, he advised her to visit a woman nearby who “fixed” people’s ailments.

I was skeptical, to say the least. But Yoli wanted to go, so we did. We followed Adonai’s hand-drawn map to get to her street. Then we asked a man who was welding some wall fixtures where the woman was, and he directed us. Outside her house, we told some children who we were looking for, and they went inside to fetch her.

The woman didn’t look qualified at all to my eyes. But she took Yoli in the back, and what she did has apparently helped Yoli. Yoli explained that she put oil on her knee and felt it. She could tell the problem, and pushed whatever was out of place back into place while pulling her leg back. Yoli didn’t cry or scream, and said it felt better. From what we learned, this woman is well-known, and you can even get X-ray technicians to take pictures for you if you tell them they are for her.

We visited a supermarket to restock a few items. We ended up getting milk, some juice drink mix, and frozen hamburgers.

(SIDE NOTE: I should mention that the very first morning Yoli came to eat breakfast with me, she brought milk. It was milk in a bag, which I had only heard of in Five Iron Frenzy’s parody song “Oh, Canada.” The song pokes lots of fun at Canadians, and includes the following lines: “They’ve got trees and mooses and sled dogs / lots of lumber and lumberjacks and logs / they all think that it’s kind of a drag / you have to go there to get milk in a bag.”)

We had lunch, followed by siesta (nap), and then work for 4 hours. I made a lot of progress on the website, thankfully. After work we went to a little restaurant run out of a home. You have to understand that throughout the city, any given street will include a bunch of businesses and houses. And in many cases, a family runs a business out of its home. At Yoli’s house, for instance, her mom has a store in a small structure in their front yard. It’s also her kitchen, with a stove and refrigerator inside. Anyway, the food at this place was cheap and Yoli said she ate there often. They always serve chicken (pollo) and hamburgers (hamburguesas) and one extra item. Yoli explained to me that the extra item that evening was one of the things she had cooked for me in the States. But I misunderstood which one she meant, and got excited. I was thinking she meant chicken milanesa, but that’s not what it was. It was rice with some chicken and beef, along with an egg, salad, and baked yucca (like potatoes). Unfortunately, the chicken in the rice included a lot of bones and stuff I didn’t want to eat. And I couldn’t eat the salad because one never eats vegetables if you don’t know they’ve been washed in safe water. My appetite didn’t last through the whole meal, so Yoli ate the extra food. I felt kind of bad about that, but I didn’t get sick or anything, so it worked out okay.

Later we walked to a park and found a nice bench for some quiet time together. I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend so much time with her. Almost immediately when I arrived here it was like I had been with her all along these past 6 months. The time apart vanished. Now I remember what made me fall in love with her, how beautiful she is, and how wise she is. I’m glad that I’m here!

P.S. — My mom requested that I post photos of Yoli here. I don’t have any new ones developed yet, but many old ones are available on my other website. Click here to see them.

P.P.S. — Apparently my final column was published in the North County Journal today. Click here to read it!

3 Replies to “Bureaucracy gives us a headache instead of fixing a knee”

  1. Hey Josh, great column in the Journal! Unfortunately, my parents are moving but that’s due to my dad’s company being bought out. They’re not moving to west county, but actually Atlanta, Georgia. This will probably happen over the summer. Anyways, your journal is great. I read it daily. How about some *other* friends! 🙂 heh heh heh

  2. Hi Josh– Good Stuff. Especially like to hear about the different foods that you’re encountering.
    One thing that I’m curious about is the currency. What is the common currency there- the peso? What is the exchange rate to the dollar. Have you priced electronics there yet? Are those kinds of things expensive relative to U.S.?
    Kudos on the Journal article, but you didn’t give me credit for calling St. Charles County the “promised land.” That’s O.K. – I know there’s a lot going on right now.
    Keep up the fun and living the “Adventure.” Your mom and I are a little jealous. ; ^ )

  3. This adventure you are undertaking is getting more interesting every day. The experiences you get to encounter will last a lifetime, and you will find yourself thinking about them very regularly. I am jealous.
    Nan by the way is asking everyday “…did you get me an update?” So in printing your daily log, I have become very intrigued by your journey!
    Karey and I are very anxious to meet Yoli.
    Good Luck!)

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