Despite all of my finer sensibilities, I sometimes find myself described as cochino. This is a word that translates roughly as nasty, filthy, one that consorts with dogs or is pig like. It is the term mother’s use to shame children their when they pick their noses.

Now it is true, I do consort with dogs if consort means sleep with, kiss, lie down with, that doesn’t sound so good, but who in the culture I am from, the United States that is, would consider this outside the realm of acceptable behavior? But in La Tigra, dogs are considered filthy animals, which are not allowed in the house, let alone your bed.

I am the only one in my ranchito (little town) that takes the pains to wash their dishes in hot water occasionally. Does this count for nothing? Nonetheless, I  also am the only person I know of that has had chinos and sarna; translate poultry mites and mange. It’s sort of hard to write, Dead Silence, but I imagining that is the reaction of readers right now, and then something like, MANGE?! Are you freaking kidding me!

I was not actually infested with poultry lice, by the way, just my house… again that doesn’t sound so great. It was a problem of proximity to a nesting hen, which was rectified and an important lesson learned.

The most mortifying part of the sarna ordeal was listening to my husband and mother-in-law try to decide if I had pig or dog mange. I said dog mange hands down, because I always have my hands on them and I can hardly get my pigs to let me scratch them behind the ears, though it is a likely spot to pick up pig parasites I imagine.

The sarna tribulation began on the back of my hands. It was a tortuously itchy, painful and unsightly affliction. Originally I thought it was a reaction to some weed in my garden. I had been weeding and cutting grass for my pigs to eat for a couple hours every day, when a swollen tender rash appeared on my right hand. Several months passed and the rash appeared and dissipated in various levels of irritation.

I wasn’t that concerned about it other than the discomfort until I went to the U.S. and it disappeared completely, and then upon my return home came back with a new ferocity in the form of red scaly, brutally itchy patches between my thumb and forefinger on both hands, and I had not even been in the garden.

I dutifully checked the holistic healing book I always consult before going to the conventional doctor, promptly carrying out any esoteric prescription within my availability, which is limited, quickly succumbing to laziness and terminating the treatment.

In this case, before consulting the doctor I showed it to my family. “Do you know what this is?” I asked my sister in laws.

“Nope,” they said, twisting my hand in theirs, careful to avoid touching the more infectious looking areas.” Does it itch?” they asked.

“Si bein Malo,”(really bad) I said.

I received no insight into my condition until I asked my mother in law, Socoro.

“”Dog Sarna,” she said. “or maybe pig sarna, is she playing with the pigs?” she asked Felipe. Not an unreasonable question, but no, I like to watch the pigs play, but I do not join in.

She proceeded to tell  stories about sarna that I only understood the parts where the flesh fell from people’s bodies, or they were cast from the community like lepers.

In two days she returned with a small vial of thick brown paste. “Put this on your hands at night,” she told me, “and then put socks on your hands. Do not, under any circumstances, touch your face or get it in your eyes,  or you will go blind.”

I had a similar reaction to this warning that I have to drug commercials in the U.S. when they warn of thoughts of suicide,four hour erections, or anal seepage as possible side effects. Why would anyone consider using this product? But I dutifully gooed my hands with the sticky crème anyway. It felt better on contact and I ceased to wake up in the night due to the outrageous itching, as I had been for the last week.

I will tell you this, though I am careful to wear garden gloves now, I have not had problems with contact dermatitis since Soco diagnosed and treated me for  dog mange. The process for this remedy is too intricate to include, the procedure takes two days, and the ingredients include, cuatecomate, cuatchalalate, and many other obscure ‘cuate’ products. To have been the recipient of this painstaking preparation still makes me feel well loved, and that was worth the ribbing, that I am cochino.

Gracias mi Suegra.

2 thoughts on “Cochino

  1. Jajaja…this story was a great way to start the day, cochinita. I so love your humility and plainspoken honesty, Abby.

    I share your reckless affection for canine companions – yo también soy cochino.

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