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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Martin Leon Leon

In 2000 I hired a young man as an animal caregiver and an agricultural worker. Such a worker in Costa Rica is called a "peon". He was so good with my various animals that I felt confident in leaving him in charge of the house, farm, and animals while I made a month's visit to the United States. Upon my return there was a message waiting for me at the hotel in San Jose. Martin had been in a very serious traffic accident and was hospitalized and unconscious. Neighbors and friends had gained entry to my house to feed and give water to my animals until I returned. At first we all feared the worst for Martin. But he came around and showed no signs of brain damage. One leg had been powdered by the impact of a drunk driver's car (he had been on a bicycle). He also had a severe blow to his right shoulder with subsequent permanent nerve damage and he lost vision in his right eye. After all the cuts and bruises healed sufficiently and his leg had been operated on and pins and rods applied, he was released to my house for a recuperative period. My house is totally wheelchair accessible and Martin was wheelchair bound. Martin is not a man to give up. He maintained an upbeat attitude and worked hard at his exercises to regain strength in his good leg and as much as possible in his right arm. Some teeth had been knocked out and he was determined to look normal, so we found a dentist willing to make a bridge for him for very little money. As soon as he could start using crutches, he began thinking of returning to night school to complete the education he had been working so hard to get. The only rehabilitation facility under the Costa Rican Social Security system is in San Jose and Martin was ready to begin rehab (a year and a half later), so he moved in with a brother nearer to San Jose for regular visits to the rehab. center. Then another brother took him in so he could return to night school. Finally, the doctors decided the pins and rods could be removed and Martin returned to this area to have the orthopedic surgery. The original surgeon had made an error. He had placed one of the rods over the knee joint so that Martin was unable to bend his knee for almost two years. When the surgery was over he needed more rehab. to get the knee flexible again. His leg is still weak and painful. He can walk normally, but cannot return to the life he had before the accident. He can't play soccor (futbol) or dance. Climbing stairs is very difficult for him. Still, he maintains that cheerful and optimistic attitude and spends much of his time helping other people. When he came back here for what was to be a short stay, I soon found him almost indispensible. He became my "Man Friday." He loves to cook, he's marvelous with animals, he learns very quickly and has learned how to use the computer for many different tasks. He assists me when I travel (that good young brain is a lot better than my old forgetful one) and is very protective. He neither smokes nor drinks nor swears. Perfect? Well, almost. And he's learning English. Here are some photos of Martin with some of my "pets."

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About Me

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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