10....9....8....7...6...5...4...3...2...1!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! The common tradition of blowing horns, and yelling those three words, and hearing Aude Lang Syne will by a distant memory in the background. This year - something different awaits, and what it is, I am not entirely certain. I know it involves 12 green grapes, a very large party, lots of amazing food and friends, and dressing up to the nines. Yes, New Years this year will be VERY different...
Along with many things that I have recently been experiencing here in this beautiful country of Spain - I am continually seeing things that are vastly different from the traditions and lifestyle that I would encounter in the States. I continually am reminded that this country is a first world country, and you can definely tell, but at times i wonder if the definition of 1st world is a bit...skewed here. And possibly, MY definition was skewed back home in the states...i wont' be so quick to say "No..."
Being sick in another country is one way in which I can say I see the differences in the cultures with raging boldness. I have come down with some sort of cold-like sickness while here and so the last week has been a smorgasboard of attempting to get me back to full health - what a chore that is becoming. On Sunday, with a high fever, it was decided I needed a clinic - or basically a walk-in ER. Only problem - it was a holiday, so nothing was open. Including the clinics. I am certain the hospitals nearby were open, however it was decided FOR me, that I would just spend hours sitting and getting very few answers. My wondeful host-mom began calling everyone she knew (from her sister who is a nurse in Honduras, to one of the doctors from the church) in order to describe to them my current symptoms and to get some kind of medicine. Within the hour I was drinking (a very disgusting) Amoxicillian mixed with Orange Juice and water. I was baffled - how on earth did she get me a prescription without me seeing a doctor...with caution I asked my question. The answer shocked me a bit...apparently here, if you know what you have, and you know what you need, you go to the pharmacy, tell them what you need, and the attendent gets it off the shelf...including Amocillan apparently :-). I choose not to ask questions because I am extremely grateful for this medicine - and i can't wait until it actually starts working :-D
Within a few days, I had not improved at all, and it was then decided i actually needed to see a medic - it was important now. So, off my host mom went, with my Passport ready at hand and her cunning ability to describe my symptoms to a T. 20 minutes passed and I then found myself walking down the street to the medic - I finally had an appointment.
Yeah - not so much. There I stood in front of this desk and listened to the doctor as he informed me and my host mom that there was no appointments available that day and I would have to come back tomorrow night. And if I decided to come back for an appointment, it was merely going to be a 15 minute consultation. If I decided I wanted the 15 minute consultation, I would need to pay 50 Euros for the "emergency appointment" and then 30 Euros MORE for the actual consultation. With this description I realized with horrific clarity that it would cost me 80 Euros (right now that adds up to $113 American Dollars) just to get a 15 minute discussion with a doctor and that didn't even mean I would get an answer to what i had. And then he said something even more discouraging..."Ella es de Los Estados Unidos..." The only reason I was being asked to pay 80 Euros was because I was an American... wow. I guess thats one reason why health care in Europe is free... yikes.
Please know that at this point, my host mom was livid...We promptly turned down the offer and made our way out of the clinic. While walking back to the house, I was mulling over the experience in my head - just processing what I felt about the extra expectation on Americans here in Spain. I have always taken health care for granted back home - I've always known that if I had a problem, I could drive to the hospital and receive treatment - and I knew my insurance would cover the majority of the damage. Its not something I ever really thought about. But what about those people in the United States who do not have health insurance and their child gets sick. What then? And what if they aren't even legal immigrants...
Thankfully in my case, my host-mom knows a lot of doctors throughout Spain and within 20 minutes I had yet another medicine in hand...but this time I was much more grateful for it. She promptly gave her quite descriptive example of the health care throughout Europe as - "In Honduras, they look at you, shake your hand and already know whats wrong with you. In Europe - you could be stone cold dead and they'd still not know what was wrong with you."
I personally wouldn't go that far - I am thankful for the medicines I have received and I do hope they start taking effect sooner than later, and I am even more grateful for my renewed appreciation for the hospitals in the states. I know little about health care policies, and to be honest, I'd just as soon stay out of that mess, but I am extremely grateful that I know if I walk into a hospital and ask for treatment - I will receive it. And I am grateful that through it all God has promised "Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you." - Ex. 23:25.
On this New Year, I am going to celebrate the fact that I am blessed. The New Year, I think my resolution will be something like "don't take the most important things (like health care) for granted". This New Year, I'll celebrate with grapes and food and friends. And this year I have decided to celebrate with my friends across the globe as well - so here in Spain I will have 6 different New Years. I have bought a bottle of soda just for me, to send up a toast to every different country as they ring in the new year in the different ways - starting at 5:00 PM with my friends in Asia, then (around) 8:00 PM with my friends in India, at 10:00 PM with my friends in Kenya. I will celebrate here at my own midnight, and then at 1:00 AM with my friends in North Africa. And in the morning, I will toast a glass of OJ at 5am (yes, I will be setting an alarm...) with my friends in Guatemala and Honduras and finally at 6 am with my friends in the US.
And through all of it, I will remember that God's Grace is what got me this far, to this New Year, and it will be His Grace that goes with me through the year that is to come. I look back and I see His handwriting all over the wall of my life - and my prayer is that you can too.
May God Bless your New Year as much as He has already blessed mine.
6 years ago