Our gardener, Listo, did not show up for work yesterday. This is very unusual, as he has missed only one day of work previously, when we had a huge storm a few months ago and no one could venture outside.
I thought perhaps he was hungover from New Year's, but Laura said I should not speculate.
I woke up a bit late this morning, around 9am, and I looked out the window to see if Listo was in the shed, but the shed door was closed. I went out front to see if he might be working in the yard, and I found a small, rounded woman with dark skin standing patiently at the front door. I have no idea how long she'd been standing there. Such people tend to be very deferential toward those they perceive as upper classes. She would not have called out or made any noise to rouse me.
I immediately guessed that she might be Listo's mother, and she was. She said that Listo was very sick, with pains in his stomach and chest, and she had come to let me know why he was not at work.
Listo lives in the mountains above El Valle, about a one hour walk. I had no doubt that this woman had walked all that way.
My Spanish being relatively weak, I try to avoid lengthy conversations (I know, I should do the opposite), so I thanked her and she left. Then I thought, I should have offered to help, so I ran after her and caught her about two blocks away. I asked her if Listo needs any medicine. She said yes, she was going to buy a "pastel" to rub on his chest. I don't know the word in this context. The only pastel I know is a cake or pie. But I told her I'd like to pay for it - these people are very poor - and I gave her a little money. I said, "Espero que esta bien pronto," and we parted ways, the old woman shuffling away in a deceptively fast gait, back up into the mountains.