Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Three Amigas ...PART DOS

We were dumb-founded.  Had our Spanglish been misunderstood?  No, ‘Google Translate’ had clearly stated that the vet would return with our poor mangled dog in two hours, and yet he was not here.
Conversation was heavy that night, stilted.  I could hear my own laughter, hollow and guilty as—ever the clown—I tried to raise spirits and ‘reframe’.  But not even my bad jokes and Speedy Gonzales impression could dispel the worst case scenarios unfolding in my head.  Indra’s wide-eyed enthusiasm and usual ebullient appreciation of the sky, the ocean, the avocado was dulled.  Corine was similarly pensive, looking through her view-finder for some distraction, something less disconcerting to focus on. 
This was the night we had planned to see the famed Cliff Divers of Acapulco—the only ‘touristy’ activity on our itinerary.  This display of local daring-do was supposed to be amazing.  We ate sans appetite, overlooking the magnificent cliffs, watching the waves smack thunderously below.  The Divers, like bronzed geckos, scaled the rocks in their Speedos, bare-footed and without ropes.  At the perilous peak they acknowledged the cheers from the crowd, prayed to the shrine and waited for the waves to reach adequate dive-depth.
With arms raised, springing from toe-tips, they launched themselves from the craggy rock face into the hungry wave beneath.  It was an impressive feat of brave insanity and the crowd applauded.  We nodded and conservatively clapped our hands together, commenting, “their poor mothers”.  It was an interesting exhibition.  I watched the reverence (and tips) given to these gutsy men, risking their lives to dive head first into the elements. 

As the Cliff-divers finished their show and the retro stage show with sequins, g-strings and lip-synch began, I took comfort in the fact that we too had bravely dived into the unknown.  Mi amigas, Indra and Corine were not looking for applause, approval or financial gain, but to help a little suffering soul.  I looked out to sea, casting positive thoughts that our efforts and hopes would not crash amongst the rocks.
Next morning the concierge telephoned on our behalf and we waited, on pins, to hear news of the dog.  After several unanswered attempts to reach the ‘vet’, the Concierge reported back to us that the dog had indeed two broken back legs and the vet would need more money to do the surgery.
Indra had a plan.  She wouldn’t, she couldn’t leave the dog to this questionable ‘vet’, but instead we would take her to another one.  She set me the task of looking up local veterinary clinics.  Finally!  A purpose!  Something I could do to contribute to the effort!  I went a-Googling and mapquesting the local clinics.  I narrowed it down to three, but one stated ‘English spoken’.  Bingo (was his name-o)!
Indra phoned the clinic, explained our story and secured the last appointment of the day at 4.30pm.  Now, it was up to us.  We hailed a cab and I sat in the front, guiding our driver through the back streets to the store.  Corine and Indra sat silently mustering their Spanglish and their strength.  We anticipated angry scenes.  I knew it would be good to have a local ally, so I chatted to the driver non-stop, in the hopes he would be chivalrous if called upon.  His name, he told me was Napoleon, or ‘Napo’.
What a gentleman he was!  Without a peso passing my palm, he happily agreed to wait and help us on our mission.  So, with getaway vehicle idling outside, we enter the dark cave of the pet store. 
Our crippled dog was lying in a cage on the ground, looking as thin and pathetic as she did 24 hours earlier. 
Indra bent down to her.  The dog’s eyes brightened and her tail wagged. 
“It’s okay, little girl.  I’m here.”  Indra righted herself and strode towards the ‘vet’. 
A restaurant promoter, who had tried to lure us into his establishment several nights before, asked us what star signs we were.  A cliché tactic, but we played along, letting his words gush passed us with more than a pinch of salty air.  When he got to Indra, he nodded rapidly stating, “Leo, yes.  You are small but mighty.”
I thought of that then and took such pride in the power my ‘mighty’ amiga exuded.  Without a crossed word, she calmly explained that she would be taking the dog to another vet, an English-speaking vet.  The ‘vet’ tried to protest, he asked for extra money, he claimed that the cost of x-rays and driving the dog to the vet where the x-ray machine was, had already exceeded the amount we had given him yesterday.  With quiet assurance, she thanked him for his efforts.  She told him that, as she ran an animal sanctuary where contact with the Vet is frequent, she knew the real cost of things.  He did not even attempt to pursue his argument.
Indra gathered the dog in her arms and we left the dark store to resurface into the sunshine, a grinning Napo eager to open the car doors and shuttle us to the new vet. 
I read the directions and directed Napo and our precious cargo to the place where Clinica de San Franciso was supposed to be.  ‘Supposed’ being the key word.  Where the bloody hell was it?  I had written the address down correctly, I know I had.  I could feel myself start to sweat.  This was the one thing, the one thing, I was entrusted to do and—oh please, no—I had screwed it up. 
Napo wound down the window and spoke to a local.  The Clinica, it seemed, had moved to an area 20 minutes away.  Ugh!  Why hadn’t the internet updated?  Why?  No time for sweaty recriminations now.  We checked the time.  We were already late for the 4.30pm appointment!  It was Friday, would the vet stay and wait for us, or would he lock to door and head home for an evening of leisure? 
We couldn’t think of that!  We had to make it there!  With gears grinding, Napo turned the VDub and we sped off, weaving through the traffic, our heads whipping back and forth, desperately searching for street signs and then house numbers. 
“There it is!” I exclaimed, delighted to see the official-looking, clean, white building.  But as my heart leapt, so did it plummet.  There were no cars, no open doors, no signs of activity.  We were over 40 minutes late for our appointment.  Chances of finding another qualified vet on a Friday night?  Hmmmm…
We knocked on the door and looked anxiously at each other for reassurance.  Had we dived into this situation only to meet a dead end? 
After a few moments the door was opened, and there stood the white-coated, wide-smiling man welcoming us inside with open arms.  I wanted to high five and cheer, can-can and kiss the good doctor!  (I didn’t of course.  I am English.)
Indra led the way, through the waiting room to the well-lit examination room.  She showed Dr. Eusebio Gomez Duque the x-rays and discussed a course of action.  He immediately put us at our ease.  As he felt over the dog’s emaciated frame, his brow crumpled; his concern and compassion were obvious. 
We explained her story, or as much as we knew, and he listened intently, nodding and stroking his capable hands over the dog.
“And what is her name?”  He asked.
“Senorita Marisol Esperanza de Acapulco.”  Indra replied, smiling at the name we had created for her.  A long name for a small dog, but so fitting: Miss Sea and Sun, Hope of Acapulco.
The required surgery, four months of therapy, injections and spaying would cost a small fortune, but Marisol was suffering and Indra would do what had to be done to make that change.
As we strolled from the Clinic back to the main Costera, heels, heads and hearts were lighter.  We were excited to see the difference that food, water, a bath, and injections would bring our little Marisol and to see her gain strength before surgery.  As we exchanged observations of all the ways Dr. Duque’s clinic was so far removed from the dingy little back street ‘vet’ and how he was eminently more qualified to care for Marisol, Indra stopped dead.
“What is it?”
“Clinica de San Francisco!  Oh my goodness.”  She rummaged through her handbag and pulled out a folded piece of paper.  “I found this in my purse the other day.  I couldn’t think how or why it got in there.  This bag is new and was empty when I packed it!  I;m positive I didn’t pack this.”  She passed the paper to me.  “It’s the prayer of Saint Francis.  San Francisco, Saint Francis.”
Corine nodded recalling the prayer.  Indra smiled.  I frowned.  The three Amigas: the Catholic, the Spiritual and the Agnostic, shared the prayer of Saint Francis and each found something in it.  As my eyes drifted over the first lines, two words jumped out at me: ‘peace’ and ‘love’; I bit my cheek at the strangeness of it all, those were the same words, united by a third on my Indraloka Sanctuary ‘T’ shirt: ‘peace, love, animals.’
EPILOGUE: Indra is in weekly contact with Dr. Duque, monitoring the steady progress of our beloved Marisol.  The surgery was a success and now the therapy begins.  Of course, Dr. Duque’s care and attention is not free and Indra has been delighted that so many kind-hearted people have read her blog and donated to help with her treatment.  A local business Char&Co www.charandcompany.com have donated discounted hair and spa services on April 10th, when all proceeds will go towards Marisol’s treatment.  Tax deductible donations for Marisol’s care can also be made online at www.indraloka.org or by sending a check to Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, PO Box 155, Mehoopany, PA 18629.


  1. :) You are all amazing. Go Marisol!

  2. I can only hope, when I'm laying in some gutter with broken bones, pining for cocktails and compassion, that you ladies come along - and not some pack of hungry dogs.

  3. As writers, the gutter may well loom in our futures Don, but I shall be there beside you! (If not to fend off the pack of hounds, at least to pass you the Jamesons. Deal?)

  4. Nicely written. I only read this, part dos, which I think may have enhanced my experience.

    I'm curious about something. There is a line of the narrator's, "I looked out to sea, casting positive thoughts that our efforts and hopes would not crash amongst the rocks."

    Did you intentionally make her "positive" thought edge on the negative? Technically, the images she pictured were of hopes crashing, and not positive things, like hopes turning into brownies. I thought this was very clever, and subtle. If on accident, feel free to claim it as intentional anyway.

    Good work! Hope to read more!

  5. Thanks Michael! Negative thoughts and self-doubt are usually on the fringes of positivity, aren't they? Or, they are if you are female. But my intention with the 'crashing' imagery was really to compliment the Cliff Divers. We had dived into an unknown, would we hit the sweet swell or plummet to the rocks?

    And, as I said dans la Tweet, the positive negative appeals to the oxyMoron in me ;)