Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don Francisco at 101 years

He was one of our most impressive patients during our week of medical clinics in San Juan Opico. Don Francisco told us he was 100 years old, but he had the vitality and energy of a much younger man. He carried a heavy bag on his back with his working tools, almost balanced by the big crucifix on his chest, and he was beautiful to look at. Jane Kortz, our photojournalist, took a lot of photos, and this one is on the cover of our 2011 PazSalud calendar.

Last Sunday, I opened our copy of La Prensa Grafica's Sunday supplement, and there was Francisco Ayala on the cover, now 101 years healthy, and still working hard. He told La Prensa, "I've been a builder, carpenter, policeman, foreman, gardener, farmer, baker. I've dug wells, cut cane, I've done a thousand things." Now, because even a man as strong as this has to slow down a bit after 100 years, he can't do hard physical work, but he still has to earn a living - he's a poor man, who even had to sell the coffin he had purchased toward his burial - so he has become a curandero, a healer with local natural medicinal plants. One photo in the article shows him shouldering a heavy load of wood, in another he's selling his natural medicines at the big market in downtown San Salvador. He gets up at 4:30 AM every morning.

I hope our vitamins and tylenol were good for Don Francisco, but I think he's an even better advertisement for those natural medicines he's been using.

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