24. Cuautitlán: A medical visit

When I finally limped into Cuautitlán I was exhausted. My shoulder was hurting terribly, as was my back and left leg. To take pictures I had to hang my left hand on the camera to push the shutter button and push the camera upwards with my right arm. I was mess. I resolved to try to recover in quiet, semi-rural Cuautitlán.

A friend of mine, a fortyish Canadian who was an English teacher, lived close to the light-rail station in a social housing unit with his youthful Mexican girlfriend. As the sunset in the west over the Sierra Monte Bajo I reached the six-story high condo, amid the parking lots and vacant lots. At the bottom of the staircase was a small altar to the Virgin de Guadalupe which had been recently cleaned and painted.

I walked up the concrete stairwell and reached the number in small hallway, next to the door of my friend’s apartment. He opened the door. It was nice to see such a familiar face looming above me as I limped in. I sat down on the worn sofa amid the bookcases, television set and low coffee table. He said I should get my shoulder looked after and offered me an airbed. The apartment belonged to the family of his black-haired, black-eyed young girlfriend who was studying architecture at the UAM Azcapotzalco.

He stretched out his long legs and settled in an armchair. We had some beers. He had had problems with the neighbors because of his two big dogs. Later they would be poisoned but now they lounged around the small apartment. Soon we called it a night.

The next morning we sat, drank coffee and talked. He was suspicious of the influence of global planning directives and the growth of the city. I told him about the family who had moved with the city and that it was a good way to create real estate holdings. He was Jewish and told me the Jews for years had made a business betting on the growth of the city. That afternoon my wife arrived. She insisted I go to a doctor for my shoulder. It was very swollen and I was not sure whether it was dislocated. We walked through Cuautitlán to a private medical clinic.

We entered the tidy modern building housing the clinic. We waited alone in the comfortable reception after being attended with friendly small-town efficiency. I was assigned an orthopedist. After poking and pulling it a couple of times he said it was not dislocated. He asked me to lift my arm as high as I could. With great pain I brought it to horizontal.

He said I had torn a ligament and would have to immobilize my arm for three weeks or my problem would become chronic.

Naturally it would be impossible for me to immobilize my arm. I wouldn’t be able to tie my shoelaces. I wouldn’t be able to take pictures, I wouldn’t be able to eat. Nonetheless there seemed little point in arguing. He made a very competent impression with a grave demeanour and good credentials. There didn’t seem much point in explaining the project. I agreed to everything he said and we left the clinic with the sling which held my arm tight to my body. I soon discarded it once my wife had left. Nonetheless the doctor was right: the injury became chronic and it took more than a year for my arm to recover complete functionality.

But that night I wore it as I went out with my host, my wife and several friends in Cuautitlán. We went to an excellent steakhouse with a large patio garden. I spoke to an elderly man who said the land around Cuautitlán had been expropriated very cheaply.

Now these same lands were being sold at a hundredfold the price.