There’s no fool like an old fool. It was 90°F/32°C last Thursday and there I was under a hot sun moving heavy boxes of books to put in storage. By noon I realized I had dehydrated my body as well. When I returned to the home I’m vacating, sopped in sweat, it hit me all at once. Sunstroke/Heatstroke dropped me like gangbusters. I collapsed on my bed and slept all afternoon and 12 hours the next day arising occasionally to void dark-orange urine. At my age it is a miracle I didn’t have a cardiac infarct. It has taken three days to get back into a normal shape. Tomorrow the kids at the Children’s Home will be helping me move the heavy stuff, they’re on a week’s vacation for Semana Santa, the Holy Week before Easter.
The week before the kids returned to school from their three-month vacation, I took them to the Comayagua Archaeological Museum where dinosaur bones millions of years old are on display, bones that have been excavated from the Comayagua Valley. Celia compares her forearm to a dinosaur bone.
Driving a long distance requires careful planning. Think two weeks on the road through three Spanish-speaking countries with the US of Norteamerica near the Canadian border the final destination. When I travel long cross-country distances, I approach the journey like a job. I begin at 7 am, stop for a leisurely lunch and at 4 pm I look for a hotel/motel to spend a relaxing night for a comfortable sleep after a nice dinner. It is wise to stop at a bank when entering a different country to puchase enough of a local currency to carry you to the next country’s customs crossing: credit card thieves inhabit every nook and cranny. Another indispensable item is a good map with your route highlighted from begining to end in addition to purchasing a smart phone with GPS. I am 5 weeks from my start date (I’m also busy vacating my house and putting everything in storage). More travel info in the weeks ahead.
Ten years ago today I arrived in Honduras as a Peace Corps Volunteer Aspirante. After a 3-month training period, I and my 50-member class that was trained at three different sites, became full-fledged PCVs, agents of the US State Department and assigned all over the country. After my two-year service requirement was complete I decided to remain in Honduras as a permanent resident. At the top left of the web page is a link to three chapters of a biographical memoir I am writing. The book’s title is Met The Nun: Lost My Heart. It is appropriately about the love that I found working as an English teacher, History teacher, mentor and counselor with a group of at-risk children of all ages. I have never regretted my choice; the experience has changed my life. I now live in peace, tranquility, and harmony with the children and my maker.
In four months I will be traveling the Pan American Highway from my home in Honduras to the States. In Honduras, no Honda agency will service a hybrid car. Except one in La Ceiba where I take my Honda every few months for a 21-point maintenance and also enjoy a few days relaxing on the Caribbean coast. They, however, lack the computer technology to complete an interior inspection of the vehicle. The cross-country trip in my Honda hybrid will take me through El Salvador, Guatemala, Méjico, and finally to the US border in Arizona. After I reach Seattle, my brave litle 2008 Honda with a current 43,000 miles on the odometer will receive a thorough check-up. And I have an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. A ninth surgery on my injured right arm is a possibility. My Honda and I have been together since I entered the Peace Corps 10 years ago. We intend to return to Honduras once our check-ups are complete.
In neotropical México, tropical Panama and Honduras, there have been identified 48 species of larval mosquitos: I live right in the middle. Many of my Honduran friends rarely worry about mosquito bites, telling me they don’t often get bitten. They add that I have sweet, gringo blood that attracts the flying menace. Daily, before I go out into the world, I apply bug repellent, Picaridin being my favorite. I also daily swallow a 100 mg Thiamine pill that has been proven by the U.S. Army to repel the deadly little bugs. The protective effects of Thiamine were discovered during WWII in the South Pacific. I still get bitten by mosquitos, however, but not as often. In the tropics, one lives with malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, zika and who knows how many other parasites, winged and crawlers, bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that daily feed on the blood-filled human body. My chikungunya infection is approaching 6 weeks and I am almost well. But it is warm here; most days between 70 and 80 degrees F, which makes it preferable to the freezing wind, ice and snow in the Puget Sound area.
A tiny mosquito that can’t fly against a stiff breeze has the power to knock me on my butt rendering me ineffective for weeks. It has been 3 weeks since this bloodsucker’s bite and the incapacity can last 6 weeks or more. So what else is new? C’est la vie.
Just when you think the worse is over: it gets worse. Before I left for my annual family visit to the States, the faux Christian evangelical group, Orphans Outreach, canceled their humanitarian financial donation to the Children’s Home. They arrived on Sister Edith’s doorstep 6 years ago and made her many promises. I deduced right away that the evangelicals were running a money-making scam. The product they were selling the northern gringos was the children. Their webpage on Google offered a week of guided activities exposed to the barbarian poverty-stricken children of a third-world country for $1,725 per person (not including transportation). The group is active in half a dozen countries. After Sister Edith learned that the group was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and reluctantly giving the children the crumbs off the cake while keeping the rest, she kicked them out. They, of course, took their meager monthly food money contribution and removed their donated gifts before they left. A Christian organization, right? – – After I returned from my month-long odyssey, I learned that the Home’s water well pump had stopped working the week before and had no water. The well is 90 meters deep. A home supporting 25 children has to have a reliable water source. Now they have no financial support and no available water. My old truck and I transport 250 gallons of water every two days for home use like cooking and bathing and toilet flushing. And the children wash their clothes at the nearby river.
Today I Had a surgical procedure done at the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center. Dr. Douglas Hanel is my orthopedic surgeon. My fractured arm continues to bother me. Today, my friend Celeste notified me that her 2-month old nephew died from complications of hemophilia. I survived my surgery, Adonis lost his battle for life at a tender age. That ancient rock behind me in the pic is huuge on the other side of a half-mile wide chasm, at the deep bottom of which a meandering brook winds its way through a forest of quaking aspen. Life and death are intertwined. Sometimes the old survive, and the young die. I love the mountains where nature settles its timeless battles without fanfare. Live life as if it were your last day on the planet.