I regret I don't have a picture of Juanita, but chances are I'll see her again soon and then I won't miss the chance to have one of me and her taken.
Last May the 1st., Rodolfo and I made a quick trip to Laredo, Texas that would be his first time crossing the border. We had been waiting for a day that would be a holiday in MX but not in the US, and there it was... unfortunately, at the very last minute I found out my car was not fit for the trip and we would be forced to either cancel it or traveling by bus.
This would make the journey a little more complicated, but also a little more adventurous so I decided not to cancel it and off we went, on a Grupo Senda bus. We arrived in Nuevo Laredo and took a taxi to the international bridge, which we obviously crossed on foot. Most of my friends in Monterrey think that I'm crazy for doing a thing like this, but I just laugh at them and congratulate myself for doing what I want to do and not what others expect me to do.
The purpose of this trip was to visit an office located in downtown Laredo and sign some papers, which we did after a proper breakfast at Danny's (not Denny's), where I had been lured by a sign reading "Now serving barbacoa". Of course the Mall del Norte is a must visit when you go to Laredo, but how were we going to get there without a car? I didn't want Rodolfo to come back without visiting the mall, but...
Also, my dear friend Hector had asked me to visit a CVS drugstore and purchase a couple of items there, he even sent me pictures via WhatsApp. There was no CVS in downtown Laredo! Someone told me the closest was located at McPherson and Calton Rd., and that was way far from downtown Laredo (without a car). I know I could forget about it and simply tell him that it was too difficult to get there, he would understand.
But I remembered all the times that I've asked him to bring me things from the US (he goes there every month), and how he always does it for me even if he's often in a rush and it involves waiting for the UPS truck or going to a far-away store. So we went to the bus station and, reading the map in a hurry, took a bus that would hopefully take us to CVS.
Since I don't know the city very well, I had thought that we had to go to CVS, go back to downtown Laredo and then find and take another bus to the Mall (and this would take forever), but how happy I was when this bus that we were riding passed by the Mall and then continued some miles until we got off just one long block away from CVS. We crossed the busy intersection feeling like we were in a movie with the India Maria -- back in Monterrey that night I would learn that she had passed away that very day.
The first part of the trip was done. Great news, huh? Now we would only had to find out where to take the bus going in the opposite direction.... or walk a few miles under the burning sun, on a high-humidity, 104F day.
We purchased Hector's stuff and some other things that we couldn't resist. Armed with big bottles of cold lemon-cucumber Gatorade, we started to walk back to the Mall. We walked only one block and made a short stop to open the bags and take out some chocolate. A car parked by the side and Juanita got off. When she saw the adult diapers we were carrying, she asked us where we had bought them and soon we were having a nice conversation.
She said she sold more economic adult diapers and invited us to go to her house and purchase at least one box to try. The price was tempting, but I told her we couldn't do it because we didn't have a car. We talked a little more and then she said good-bye, blessed us, and went into a store next-door. Rodolfo and I stayed there a couple of minutes and were about to resume our walk when Juanita came out of the store... we said good-bye again and she asked where we were heading, and when I responded "Mall del Norte" she went "Come on, get in the car, I'll take you guys there." I couldn't believe it, the violence of the previous years had made something like this a no-no thing to do.
I felt suddenly suspicious. Where would she really want to take us? Was there anyone else in the car? Then I realized how ridiculous I was, it was her who was putting herself in danger by offering a ride to a couple of complete strangers! So we got in the car and talked a little more during the short trip. She told us her mother had been originally from Mexico, born in Sabinas Hidalgo, not very far from Monterrey, and her father was from Spain. Her older sisters had been born in Nuevo Leon, but then the family moved to Texas and she was born there.
She also said that she had never married, but had some nephews and nieces that she considered her own children. I got very sad when she told me she had diabetes and a history of hereditary heart disease. I said I had learned that the moringa leaves were very good for diabetes and I offered to send her some when I got back to Mexico. A few seconds later we reached the Mall and she insisted on leaving us at the very entrance. I said good-bye feeling suddenly sad, I had met her for just a few minutes but I felt like she was a dear friend.
My sister Lola gave me some moringa leaves only yesterday, and I have been considering what the best way would be to send them to Laredo. What if the UPS guys or the people at Customs take it for dope? I called Juanita a while ago and asked her if any of her friends or relatives was coming to Monterrey soon. Turns out no one is coming to Monterrey, so she said she would be very happy to wait until I could go back to Laredo again. Ooops, I don't go to Laredo that often, the last time was last year! I had to think of another solution...
Juanita told me she was just getting back from the doctor's office, a little sad and depressed because she had been told she needed another operation -- the diabetes was ruining her eyesight. I felt really, really sorry to hear that. I hung up telling her I would pray for her recovery and I would try to visit soon.
I really think the moringa leaves can be of help, so I searched the web and found a place that sells them in Austin, TX. I ordered a bag and gave Juanita's address for the delivery. I wish I could see her happy, surprised face when she opens the package!