Friday, January 16, 2004

This is why I love dogs.

I'm in a sort of a twilight zone right now, waiting for a call from Mexico, and I can't really do anything but blog. My mother-in-law, who has been living in Mexico, has apparently been in a car accident, but we can't find her. She was on her way back to the US for good, and somewhere in or near San Luis Potosí she was in an accident. We think. At this point we don't know anything for sure. Last night we got a call from a friend of hers in Guanajuato (where she was living), who had gotten a call from someone with Seguro Social. He gave us a number to call, and that appears to be all he knows about the situation. No one answers at that number.

So naturally we went into a bit of a panic. We got on the internet to figure out who else to call. I came up with a list of hospitals in San Luis Potosí and decided I would start calling and use the Spanish skills I've cultivated for so many years. Unfortunately I don't have many skills with the Mexican phone system. The phone numbers on this particular site are listed with the assumption that you are calling from Mexico and have a knowledge of Mexican area codes. For example (01)48116363 is for the Centro Medico del Potosí, but really the "4" stands for the full area code: 444. Apparently it is assumed you know to put those other two 4s in there. And if you're calling from the US you can drop the "01" and instead substitute the US international calling code (011) and the country code (52) for Mexico. it took me a while to get everything right.

But even then I was getting no answer at a lot of the numbers. I think most of them aren't actual inpatient hospitals. But the people who did answer were very nice and helpful, but they couldn't find my mother-in-law. At one point someone gave me a number that was supposed to be for a hospital, but it turned out to be someone's house. I thought it was strange when a woman answered with "Bueno" and not the name of the hospital, but this is all so strange I paid no attention. I launched into my spiel in Spanish about calling from the US looking for my mother-in-law who had been in an accident. I said I think she's at the Seguro Social hospital. (Unlike the US Social Security system, the Mexican Seguro Social provides a complete range of services for everyone ... sort of like an actual social security system. People in the US often assume things here are so superior to Mexico's but I wonder sometimes ...). So I hear the woman say to someone, "Go find the number for Seguro Social. Hurry, my love. This woman is calling from the United States and her mother-in-law has been in an accident." I hear someone rifling through pages. Then I realize that there is a television on in the background. I hear a child's voice. Holy crap, I've called someone's home at 11 pm. and she's going out of her way to be helpful and nice. I love Mexico and Mexicans. I need to move there. I mean, imagine if things were the other way around: some woman with accented English calls you at 11 pm saying she's calling from Mexico trying to find her mother-in-law who's been in an accident in your city. Would you be nice, polite and helpful? I like to think I would, but in general, daily life in the US is constant training in how to be an asshole.

Anyway, I've called San Luis Potosí police. I've called the Cruz Roja (Red Cross). I called the US Embassy in Mexico City, who hooked me up with the consulate in Monterrey. They are looking for her and I'm waiting for them to call back. But even if they find her, they need her permission to give us any information about her. What if she's unconscious?

OK, I should go, because this isn't helping ...