When we arrived, Monday morning, at the clinic, my symptoms were obvious to the women who daily heal friends and neighbors with plants and water. I could not stand straight and was already demonstrating the tell tale limp and bent posture for which it was named in Africa. It means "bent person" and I was bent.
|Children learn plant medicine by watching their grandmothers from an early age. Here they laugh as they prepare a bath for me.|
During the presentations and workshop I nearly passed out. As soon as we were finished, the women, hurried me back to the cooking house and ordered me to take off my clothes. A large pot of plants were waiting. The little girls laughed and played. How many times I had watched, as they prepared plant medicines, just steps from the clinics pharmacy. These two worlds did not seem to meet. I would ask the name of plants and press a leaf in my book and try to grasp what it was used for. It was their main medical system. They had no money for medicine but there were always the plants and their ancient wisdom. Inside, the doctors complained that there was no medicines anyway and everyone debated why there were no medicines and how to regulate them and if they were being stolen. Outside they made their own medicines and distributed it to me with love.
|Treatment for Chikungunya|
Soon, I was being scrubbed, head to toe, with leaves. The water and the brush of the plants offered some relief. Their hands moved quickly and with skill. They knew what had to be done.
The water and the plants and the rubbing all helped support my lymph system which was desperately trying to identify the virus, make cells to destroy it and eliminate it from my body. With no formal education, they knew what to do. Had I stayed, there would have been more baths but I left shortly after; bits of leaves clinging to my skin and woven into my dripping hair.
That night my body, taking advantage of my sleep, burned as it tried to further destroy the virus. I tossed with wild dreams, sweat and chills until morning when I could try to go get a cup of tea and sit in the sun.
Many times, as my body ached, I would recall the bath on the mountainside of LaGonave.