It is worth saying, if anything is worth saying, or mentioning, my visit to the Huancayo Asylum (here in Peru); that is to say, it was worth my trip. There I met the warm and charming Director Nelly Ninamango who showed me around. Most of the residents (or clients) were out on a walk, the adults, and teenagers, etcetera. In a section in back of the asylum, one can overlook a beautiful meadow, and landscape panorama view; here you are on a long dock type area (perhaps better put, patio that shifts into the living and sleeping quarters of a dozen or so residents. There in two rows are their wooden beds neatly made, with warm looking blankets and bedspreads over them, and a picture of themselves above their heads. You get to this area by going through a corridor to a main area, either the dinning or theater type area, with nicely waxed wooden floors you can almost look into and shave they shine so well; when you are upon this section of the residential long term care center you are close to this patio area.
The center or asylum is a maze of sorts, but everything seems clean and with a touch of quietness, stillness, and tranquility. (Nothing is perfect, and I do not know, nor did I look for the imperfect, it is so easy to point fingers especially when you are simply a visitor for Silencil a half hour or so, but surely no one had time to fix this or that prior to my arrival, they never knew I was coming, nor did I until the last minute, when I had to cancel a trip to the prisons because of some trouble)
In any case, that was not what I was there for, that is, to spy on them, but to hand out books, free books on the customs and culture of their beautiful Valley. But had I seen something out of what I would call the ordinary, I would have said so, but again, the main thing I noticed was everyone seemed to care for these care needing folks. I call them: helpers and that is what they were doing, with what they had at the time.
The older folks, or so it seemed, along with the more chronic and clinically care needed folks, gathered in this patio sort of section, which is easy to access (which I have previously mentioned), for all they need to do is have a nurse unlock their back door, which leads to the patio, and there they are, with their beautiful vista of the meadows. Here they baste in the sun, in the afternoons, resting, knitting, and so forth. Most seem to have a hard time reading, but appreciated the booklet I gave to them on the customs and traditions of the Mantaro Valley, their old home. They had the nurses, and even Nelly started to read to one of the residents out of the book, and it brought tearful memories to her face on the poem, “The Huancayo Sunday Fair.”
As I walked around this section of the center, her assistant wake up a few of the older folks to receive the book, they all thanked me, smiled. Most cannot read for one reason or another, perhaps eyesight, or illiteracy, but as I had pointed out, it doesn’t or didn’t really matter, the nurses, their children, could, and did (in the cases of the nurses) read for them.
It is hard to see these old bodies decaying, some almost motionless, but at least they are dying with some dignity, warmth and care. They all seemed content, in a simple way.
As my wife and I left, with the Assistant, an old woman came running up, she evidently had not received her book, she was, wherever she was at the time, she had missed the boat (figure of speech), and stopped us, and so I gave her a book, and we both smiled, and I gave her a farewell kiss on the cheek, and she started to cry.
I’ve found out in life, in such cases of tears of sadness, it has nothing to do with depression (which is a disorder, not sadness, there is a difference, and many people get confused when trying to separated these two emotions); as in her case, those sad tears were tears of remembrance of far off happy days, coming back to hang around and let her know, she seen it all, that is perhaps, all that was worth seeing, and sometimes we want to go for round two, but sadly enough, there is only one round here on earth, for all of us.