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vendredi 18 janvier 2013


I was still a student in Australia when I read somewhere; I think it was WCFields an American comedian of his era who said:
First Prize is one week in Philadelphia
Second Prize is two weeks in Philadelphia!
I thought of it while writing down the title of this blog, without any disrespect to USA or its friendly inhabitants.
Day 1 UA 777 staffed by grandfatherly type Flight Attendants, looking tired life. Meal was not enjoyable; the wine I wanted was not available even though the brochure said it was, settled for a Russian River Chardonnay after two glasses of Heidsick Metropole. 
(Skyteam Lounge at Terminal 4 at LHR, food and drinks on the flight to Houston from London)
10-hour flight into Houston. Quickly through Immigration and Customs (Global Entry). A short connecting flight to San Antonio (40 minutes). The driver of the shuttle bus that took me to AVIS rent a car recollected our last conversation, about his lost chances of visiting Australia, when I was here in December! Incredible! Quickly to Comfort Inn where an attractive Mexican American girl assigned me to a very large room.
Day 2
(Traditional soup of the Kickapoo)
An uneventful two and half hour drive to the Kickapoo Reservation where my sister Mena was waiting with a traditional Kikapu soup. vegetables and chicken. Within a few minutes, we were off to Mexico in a van full of patients she had organized to be seen and treated there by our team of 3.
(A van full of Kickapoo patients to Mexico)
 By the time we finished at 8 pm, I was tired and yawning with jet lag stepping in but it was time to get back to Eagle Pass, USA for a pleasant dinner at Don Miguel Parrillada. The effervescent manager recognized our Mexican colleague and treated us to some heavy cheesecake! I chose Pollo Azteca with a tantalizing Margarita and that made me my own somnambulistic shadow even before I fell asleep at the Reservation.
(Dinner with Mena, Doctora, Sr Davila at Don Miguel Parrillada in Eagle Pass, Texas)
Day 3
The morning fog was very thick and it was an unusually cold morning for this part of the world. Once again across the international border into Mexico. Already patients were waiting, Kikapu as well as Mexican. When there was a lull in the clinic, I sneaked upstairs, where the husband of the doctor, a gentleman rancher, had prepared a very nice Mexican breakfast-beef machacada, eggs, avocado, and coffee…
(Caballero Don Polo Davila preparing breakfast for us)
More patients but so many courageous stories. An elderly lady who threw away her cane, after beginning her rehabilitative therapy in Cuba under the watchful eyes of la Doctora and then continuing it here, including Ozone therapy and now is mobile without any assistance.
At least a couple of people in their sixties, given up six to eight years ago for chronic kidney disease and urged to go into dialysis, still doing well without dialysis on Ozone therapy!!
Once again the clinic was not one of your usual clinics-innovation and psychology makes this clinic unusual and patients are happy.
The last ones were a couple, the lady elegantly dressed with her doting husband in tow. I was impressed with the tenderness they showed each other.
How is my wife, Doctor, he asked in polite Spanish, in all earnestness
I replied and explained, and it was my turn to ask,
How long you two have been married?
53 years he said, more than half a century, she added, with a gleam in her eyes..
 (Peer Educator Mena, resting while conducting her interviews)
(Moscogo dish of brown rice, chili and beef)
Back across the border, to the reservation where a Mascogo lady from Mexico had prepared a very nice spicy dish with brown rice. Mascogos are an interesting group of people who had lived alongside the Kikapu for a very long time in Mexico. It was 5 pm and I knew that the sun will soon set and I better leave to avoid any encounters along the lonely road to San Antonio. 2 hours and 45 minutes later, a very chilly evening, drove into the Econolodge, next to the very hotel I had stayed just two nights earlier.
A north Indian lady was at the reception, we briefly exchanged words about Indians in the hotel business in USA. I thought to myself, these immigrants reflect the general mood of the state they migrate to; when they are in Texas they are as friendly as the Texans and certainly friendlier than others in less warmer states. She wanted me to give her some pointers about a visit she and her family were planning to the city of Lights, Paris!
Day 4
The airport was only 5 miles away and on this Sunday morning the road to the airport and the airport itself were empty.
A short flight and a quick connection at IAH, at the appointed time I was in OMA, rented a car from AVIS and got on to the road north. I wanted to get to the reservation of the Indians where the Blue House was, before 5 pm, as I expected the sun to go down by then, before our four legged brothers begin their foraging and to avoid unnecessary encounters with them.
The sun was dipping at the horizon, when I reached the boundary of the reservation. Remembering my negligence for not saying a prayer of gratitude on entering the reservation (as I was taught), I called out to the open space in front of me, I am thankful that all of you have brought me here safely. Looked at the trees with affection and drove into the reservation towards the Blue House. Sure enough, within minutes, two deers, one of them a fawn, appeared. I interpreted it was a symbol of welcome; I thanked them and drove, just ahead of the falling night.
Days 5, 6, and 7
(Tonia Keller, PA a Hocank with whom I have worked for many years)
I am privileged to work at this clinic of Hocank Tribe of Nebraska, their Whirling Thunder Wellness Programme. Two excellent co-workers and a very obliging helper and also the best nutritionist in the Indian country, who is a HoCank herself.
One patient after another, with long, content, in depth interviews and counselling, along with medical care for their chronic conditions, much coated with the cultural nature of their way of thinking about sickness, we made sure that all of us did what we best could, for all of them. Most of patients needed one hour of our time each.
My personal motto is: They must leave happier than when they entered.
I had packed the night before, after the last patient, I was on the road again, 90 minutes later I was pulling into the parking lot of a stucco home in the suburbs of Omaha, where a Indian family awaited me with their welcome.

(a typical UmonHon welcome greeting for Oncle S)
Day 8
The day began with conversations and a Nespresso.. A nice sense of belonging to these ancient people.
It is time to leave the USA, thankful for a full, satisfying time for a Physician-Anthropologist…
 (AVIS should be proud to have such a good employee like Brandy)
Continuing the incredible hospitality of the Midwestern Americans, Brandy at AVIS and the lady behind the counter at United, did immense favours… what is amazing is that, they continue to do so, not just one, but time after time… that is why I like coming to the USA!