We visited Casa Maria today, a home for los ancianos (seniors) which my OT program did some fundraising for. After meeting at our professors’ homestay, we walked to the bus stop and took a famous chicken bus to the pueblo of San Felipe. There we walked up a hill to the senior home I’ve heard so much about.
I’m not sure how much I can say about Casa Maria since it’s part of our research and many of the details are confidential in relation to specific people in the home. However, what I can tell you is that it was shocking to me. There are 65 people who live in the home, and in one room there was 7 beds crammed together with less than a foot to pass through them, not enough for a walker, wheel chair, or even a person. People were in wheel chairs whose seats were worn out and replaced by plastic lawn chairs, only without the legs. Some people were tied to poles with scarves to restrain them from I’m not sure what. I’m still reeling from the things I saw, and this is considered one of the better places to be.
Nonetheless, the people I talked to were nice and seemed to be at least somewhat content. They said the food was good, and I could tell by the smell of their lunch being prepared in the kitchen that they weren’t just saying that to be nice. Many of the people are excited that we’re there and some remember the group from last year. As overwhelming as things are, I’m hopeful that we can make a difference in the lives of these people. The question is where to start.
After Casa Maria, we had lunch, a lecture at Hotel Candelaria on research methods, and then dinner with Jorge and Marie. Marie told us she wakes up everyday at 5am or sometimes 3 am to iron, do laundry, clean, and cook. I’ve said this many times, but she is an amazing cook and an even better mother and wife. When Jorge gets home, she sets his dinner on the table, and just looks at him with big eyes… you can tell they really love each other. To Erica and me, it seems like Marie does everything and it’s scary how well she does it. We reminded her eldest son tonight that he’s very lucky, and we told Jorge that we’ll refer to him from now on as “Marie’s Husband.” However, Jorge is a great father as well. He told us how he never goes out because he wants to set a good example for his kids. He’d rather spend time with them and teach them how to be happy in life instead of doing things for himself. As old-school and traditional as this seems, something is working for them because they’re kids are amazingly well mannered and they’re obvious love and respect for one another is enviable.