On Thanksgiving day, Erin got hooked by a manta ray at Playa Tecolote (Baja California, Mexico). Her foot bled, gushed blood, swole up and turned black. As I approached from snorkeling, I thought she was buying something from the beach vendor who was hovering over her attentively. So I didn't hurry. But when I got close, I saw she was crying. She looked up at me and said she'd been bitten by a manta ray and pointed to her black and blue swollen bleeding foot. The Mexican man had drawn a small ray in the sand and was explaining to us. She was crying. He said we needed some hot water, some medicine, available at the tour boat shack up the beach past the restaurant. He had squeezed it as best he could. She was scared. Really scared. He was calm, serious, gentle, said my friend was really beautiful. By that point I realized this was very serious. I remembered Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died by manta ray sting. He said no, the hospital was not necessary. She needed hot water and medicine. So I gathered up as much of our beach stuff as I could carry, and I got her to agree to try to walk with us to the tour boat shack. He, name Jorge, selling bright Indonesian sarongs, $150.00 pesos. Erin chose the bright green one. I gave him my dictionary, and began to get up to leave. He's all, "your dictionary, my 150 pesos." I switched it and we began walking, Erin crying, frightened, wrapped in her bright new Indonesian sarong. She was moaning and howling softly and limping. We got there. Jorge came with us, following a little behind. At the tour shack, they quickly got the idea. We had to climb up onto their deck. It seemed so terribly high and steep, but they wanted her up there. She sat in one of those precariously flimsy white plastic chairs. Their son brought containers of boiling hot water. Erin was screaming and moaning. The man was squeezing out the venom. Her foot was swollen and bruised from the sting. No stinger remained. They kept checking in with her to make sure the venom was not moving up her leg, but it remained located in her foot and ankle. I mixed bottle water to cool the boiling water so it didn't burn her skin. He squoze. The woman gave her pain pills. Another man came and watched. Jorge was there too. The man rubbed her foot with a slice of white onion = cebolla. The whole time I'm looking up words in the dictionario. Erin's screaming, crying, and moaning. The man's working on squeezing out the venom, and washing it off her skin. The kid's bringing hot water and tubs. The woman told her, "Just 15 minutes of pain. Then you'll be fine," or words to that effect. He rubbed her with the onion.
Then, finally, they said she should walk in the sand on the beach. We climbed down off that precariously high deck with the dangerously steep steps. We walked up & down back & forth in front of their little rental shack, Erin limping in her new bright green sarong. The desert sun burning down on us. Back & forth. She said it was feeling better finally, though still terrible. I went and got our things and our car. I tried to compensate the woman. She said it was their pleasure to help us.
Now, that is moral. Those are good people. There to help us. They got satisfaction from our desperate need. It felt to us like they saved her life.
What this shows me is: I search my life for meaning, try to strip down to the essentials. Remove all the artifice, the goals, the technology, the money. These people showed me the simple purpose of life. Help someone in need. Alleviate suffering. Make someone feel safe. Take care of others. Feel the love. Spread the love.
Labels: The purpose of life