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.
The day is almost here. My flight lifts off in two days. I am leaving my garden behind in the hands of a very capable lady. I spent the day with the children after church today: tomorrow is the Day of the Children in Honduras but celebrated today as well. It is followed by Fiestas Patrias: Honduras’ Independence Day on September 15th, the day they kicked the thieving Spaniards out of the country 200 years ago and is celebrated all over the country for a week with pride and parades, and music, and dancing, and delicious food. I deplane in Seattle late Wednesday. Viva Honduras! Viva México!
Life is often a maelstrom of exigencies clamoring for attention. Traveling is like that. Ergot the preparations for my trip to Seattle next month. The daily care of my growing garden is of prime importance. Having keys made for the lady providing that care to enter my yard, scheduling a teeth-cleaning appointment, maintenance for my ailing Chevy pickup, consulting with my attorney concerning placing a lien against the property of the sleazy lawyer who owes me money and refuses to pay, dealing with my English class at the Childen’s Home, long distance scheduling of my annual MD visits with my surgical orthopedist, my eye doc, and my primary care physician at the Seattle VA Hospital. So much to do, so little time. A word about dental care in Latin America, the reason why so many gringos travel south to see a dentist. In Honduras, a teeth-cleaning appointment costs $25. As does a filling. My one tooth implant, a six-month procedure, cost me $1,700. I am eager to spend a month with my family in the Seattle area. Yet, at the end of that month, I will be happy to return to my home in paradise.
From a total wreck, the busito has been repaired and is ready to return home. After the accident six months ago, I thought the poor thing would never run again. The vehicle looked like a crushed tin can (see January posting). But here it is, as good as new. Both boys in the pic, Anael, and Oscar, were injured in the accident. They showed me where they had been sitting that fateful day on that steep, rainy, slippery dirt mountain road, a deep abyss on either side. None of the 15 people riding in the busito, kids, and adults, suffered severe injuries. The repair job cost $5,000 but there is still money owed before it will be released to the Children’s Home. I realize very few people read this web page, however, if by some miracle some generous benefactor who is reading this page has $1,000 to spare, it would be more than welcome. Gracias.
My friend Celeste asked me to help transport a little girl and her family to church and then to a brief celebration after the baptism. Celeste was the god-mother. The family is very poor living in a small dirt-floor adobe hut high on a hillside at the end of a steep rocky pathway. The outdoor latrine is behind the hanging cloth door. The family lives in a barrio where Celeste does missionary work and I occasionally help. Then a week ago, I traveled to La Ceiba to see my goddaughter Yelsi and to take my Honda Hybrid in for its 6-month maintenance checkup. Sorry about the fuzzy pic where I treated Yelsi and her cousin to lunch. As usual, I stayed at my favorite hotel in downtown La Ceiba for my five-day mini vacation. Honduras is a nation of stark social contrast.