We recently took a trip to Colima, a city about two hours away. Our new neighbors drove us, so we had the unusual experience of hurtling down the highway. There don’t seem to be any regulations regarding passing in effect. Cars and trucks speed around each other at will, the driver being passed generally understanding the need to pull off slightly onto the side of the road. It is nice, I decided, to walk. And the straight-to-video American movies dubbed in Spanish are themselves worth the price of a bus ticket. (I saw one recently starring Cedric the Entertainer and Vanessa Williams about an ill-fated cross-country roadtrip to a family reunion in a brand-new, Burberry-plaid-upholstered Lincoln Navigator.)
For lunch our neighbors suggest one of the restaurants near the lush, green parks in the middle of town. The squares are lined with nineteenth-century buildings, some still unrestored after the earthquake that struck some twenty years ago, ferns growing from their crumbling balconies. My sandwich drips with brilliant yellow mustard. We make several passes around downtown looking for the archeological museum that Lorraine wants to visit, which ends up being next door to the restaurant. Lorraine’s husband David says he is sick of museums.
My true mission here is finding the Farmacia Especializada, which stocks a drug called Rho-Gam that I am supposed to take at this stage of pregnancy as a consequence of my negative blood type. At least, if I were in the U.S., I would be expected to take it now. Here in Mexico the practice is to give it to you when the baby is born. But I had convinced my doctor to prescribe it, and here I am, tracking it down. Escaping high-minded pursuits, David offers to drive us, and we go off in search of the Boulevard Camino Real.
At the pharmacy, there are at least six white-coated employees behind the counter, and no customers. Pharmaceuticals are arrayed on the white open shelves behind them like expensive perfumes. I try to interview two employees to find out whether the drug they sell, made in Mexico and called Rho-something else, contains a form of mercury that used to be used as a preservative in some drugs made in the U.S. Halting Spanish, confused pharmacists. Finally I guess I say “el tiene mercurio, como conservador?” clearly enough to be understood, and they assure me that this Rho has only been preserved in the refrigerator. So they pack the injection in ice and suggest una clínica in town where I can get it quicker than in the nearby hospital.
After soliciting vague directions from people on the street, we find the Clínica Cordoba. We enter an empty hallway where a receptionist sits behind a desk. There are no other patients. I walk to the nurses’ station and explain that I have a shot here, and I need someone to inject me with it. A nurse immediately takes me into a room, gives me the shot, and charges me $1.50. She then engages in a lengthy search for change for the equivalent of a ten-dollar bill.
We collect Lorraine, head back out of town, and find ourselves bumping along cobblestone streets in a nearby village. “Isn’t this the way we went last time?” David asks. “When I had to ford a stream?” Fortunately the water is low this afternoon, and we drive through green countryside, cows and horses grazing beneath the sloping hillsides, a few locals bathing in the hot springs along the side of the road.