An epilogue to the Tale of Potosi:
I screamed “I’m blind!”
I heard David stumble over from his room, blasphemies rolling, swearing it better be important, when—mid-vitriol—he stopped. A second passed. And then in an almost sweet voice, “Oh, it looks like you have a little burn. Nothing to worry about. I’ll just… I’ll just, um, go around the corner and see if they have anything at the farmacia….”
I was petrified. It was the most excruciating pain of my life, I had lost my foremost sense, I was far from home, suddenly alone in the dingy Bolivian capital, and any sense of hope had flown off with David’s erstwhile gruffness. David came from Australia. He met most adversity with a level head, so when his voice sweetened I knew my state was dire.
Half an hour later David returned, whistling.
“What did they say?”
“They were closed. But the hags in the witches’ market had solution. I’ve got the important ingredients and we’re gonna get you all fixed up buddy. A few shrubs from the lunar park, cactus juice, dried vicuña eyes, a lizard tongue, some mushrooms, fox blood, a block of salt—let it stew for an hour and soak up some gauze to treat those eyes right. Should heal in a matter of weeks.”
Even if I had wanted to cry at that point it would have been too painful. Even if I wanted to faint, the searing would have kept me awake. Instead, disoriented and fevered, I believed David.
For the next few days I kept gauze soaked in this brew on my eyes, and gradually the swelling subsided. A layer of skin peeled off my face. By the third day I had regained my long-distance vision, although I could not focus on anything within a few hundred meters. After a week I could see near and far, although slightly blurrily. And after two weeks, I had fully recovered. The human body’s ability to regenerate is amazing.
As it happened, the witches’ restorative potion had done the trick, though I realized upon regaining my vision that the concoction’s ingredients were two: chamomile and milk.