Solving Sight With Wine

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by Joseph Toone

I was lucky enough to grow up with a blind aunt giving me a life-long ability to communicate changes in depth when walking (to my kids, dogs or older pals).  Plus by the time I hit the double digits in age I was an expert on hiding white wine in Cepacol mouthwash bottles so the nuns couldn’t find Aunt Ida’s stash.  Considering she drank white tokay I can’t imagine why anyone else would want it.

Another handy lesson Aunt Ida taught me was counting the doors between my room and the stairwell so I could escape if blinded by smoke.  Truly, a valuable travel tip to make part of your hotel stays and a life saver in a fire.

In San Miguel de Allende the society for the blind is called Santa Lucia.  St. Lucy was an early nun that lived at a time when all you saw of a nun was her face.  A nobleman falls in love with Lucy based on her face and wants to marry her.  However, Lucy wanted to remain a nun.

Lucy pondered “How can I get this guy off my back?” when she realized she had to mar her face to dissuade him so she tore out her eyeballs.  Instantly Mary gave Lucy a new set of eyeballs so in art she is always portrayed carrying her old eyeballs that are a different color than the new peepers Mary gave her.

The nobleman lost all interest in Lucy and she went on to become the patroness of vision issues.  If you go to St. Lucy asking for help with your vision and she grants it, you’ll leave the milagro of the little eyeballs on her image.  Hence, St. Lucy’s images normally feature hundreds of little eyeballs as signs of appreciation from all those she had help see better.

Sidebar:  If living in an area with many of Swedish descent St. Lucy’s feast day, December 13th, is celebrated with girls wearing candles in their hair (Lucy means light) and a vast amount of Swedish meatballs to start the holiday season.  Here in San Miguel de Allende you’ll find folks asking for donations for the blind around town.

St. Lucy’s Society for the Blind was started by Javier Martinez Tapia, a local artist that lost his vision in his 30s.  Until his death a few years ago it was common to see Javier walking briskly around centro, something that with sight I can’t manage to do without stumbling!

For nearly 30 years Javier’s society is open every day but Sunday to:

  • Give away glasses and canes
  • Accept and give donations for sight-related surgery
  • Offer seminars on cataractsglaucomaeye cancer and other sight topics
  • Provide counseling

Currently Javier’s daughter, Paloma, continues the charity.  Recently Paloma started selling tote bags in multiple colors to help fund St. Lucy’s efforts.  They are quite sturdy and can hold many bottles of Aunt Ida’s, or your, wine!

The Saint Lucy Society for the Blind is located in colonia Guadalupe as the last building to the right on the street Augustin Lara, not far from the popular Gil’s supermarket.  Paloma is there normally from 10am to 5:30pm and you’ll know you are at the right place because the reception area is surrounded by the largest private collection of suits of armor I’ve ever seen!

by Joseph Toone