The Healer

This week my friends and I packed our bags for the longest vacation we have from school this whole semester, and hopped on a bus headed towards the east coast of Nicaragua.  Our intention was to travel all Tuesday night, taking 3 buses in order  to arrive in the small fishing town of Pearl Lagoon on Wednesday morning.  After 2 nights in Pearl Lagoon, we planned to head to the small city of Bluefields, a cultural center of the Atlantic coast built from the influences of the indigenous and African diaspora population.

Me on the nicest of the buses, just moments before tragedy

But things never happen the way we plan, so of course I fell while getting out of the first bus, and dislocated my ankle.  Nothing’s broken, but my ligaments are shredded.

By the time we arrived at Pearl Lagoon, I was so discouraged.  Every bump in the road, and there were thousands, shot pain up my entire leg.  On the next two crowded “buses” we took, which were really more like carts carried by trucks, I had to constantly beg people to try to not step on me.  Some of my friends went off to book us a hostel, and I sat outside with two of the other girls, waiting.  An old man came up, begging me for money, until he saw my foot. “Oh, you’re a cripple, never mind…”

Some women who stopped to chat, and the older men who eventually helped me hobble my way to the hostel, all said the exact same thing: “You need to go see Winston.”  Ironically the hostel owner’s son was there for a visit, and he, Wesley Jr., was a pediatrician.  He confirmed what the rest of the community said, “Sweetheart you need to go see Winston and you need to go see him now.  Don’t wait another moment.”

So we went to go see Winston.

Once, my knee was dislocated, and getting it reduced was one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I was terrified.  My fears were not soothed when we pulled up to the most meager of shacks, with a hammock out front and a dog and a monkey on the stoop.  Eventually 6 or 7 people came out of the tiny house, including a few small children and one very old man.

Winston was about 6’3″, very skinny, with really intense eyes.  He sat me down in a plastic chair and handed me a plastic cup of water.  He pulled up a chair across from me and took my swollen, purple foot in his lap.

“You need to relax,” he said, “If you push back to me, I can’t do my work.”

I cried like a baby, and Winston gave me the most painful massage of my life.  And then snap! snappity snap! and all the sudden my foot felt totally different.

“That’s it.  You still need to be careful, but it’s done.  It’s in place.”

I was shocked at how significantly the pain had decreased.  I asked Winston what I could give him for helping me.

“Liz,” he said in his thick creole accent, “We do not give because of what has been given to us, we give out of love.”

An inspirational bite of philosophy, and a re-located ankle?  What more could a girl want.

On Friday morning, when I was heading back early from my disappointing vacation, I said goodbye to Wesley Jr. and told him how moved I was by the help I received from the community, even though I was a stranger.  Everywhere I went, everyone I encountered tried to help in any way they could.

“Well Liz, all we ask is that when you go forth into the world, tell all of the people you meet of the kindness you encountered in the small community of Pearl Lagoon.”

Will do, Wesley.


****Pictures of the actual ankle injury have been excluded for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing****


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