The week started out innocuous enough. My assistant program manager came to La Masica for a routine site visit on Wednesday. I had developed a respiratory problem due to the room in which I had been housed; I moved out, and the assistant program manager told me to call the Peace Corps Medical Officer. On Thursday the PCMO told me to go to the Hospital DÁntoni in Ceiba if the problem persisted. On Friday I packed my toothbrush and one change of underwear and came into Ceiba to see the ER doc. Xrays and blood work determined that my body had not been permanently damaged but that my lungs were inflammed. The ER doc ordered me to receive twice-a-day corticosteroid inhalation therapy treatments as well as oral steroid and IM meds for three days so I had to remain in Ceiba until Monday morning, in a hotel. At 6AM Sunday morning President Zelaya was secuestered by the country´s military and spirited out of the country to Costa Rica from where he announced that he was taken at gunpoint from his official residence in his pajamas and threatened with death. His wife was in hiding in the mountains. Everything in Ceiba and all over the country shut down. Of course I didn´t bring my camera to be able to film all the people gathered in the streets around the Ceiba Palacio Nacional shouting and yelling in protest. The army posted soldiers all around the angry demonstrators. The army imposed a curfew last night from 9PM to 6AM. This morning, Monday, I went to the hospital for my last inhalation therapy treatment. All Peace Corps Volunteers were notified last night by the Peace Corps Country Director to stay where we are until Tuesday morning at 8AM. I´m still at the hotel and I am going downtown today to buy some underwear and another shirt.
We didn’t make it all the way to the Boca Cerrada aldea. Following the photos from the bottom right shows our embarcation point from an aldea called Tierra Firme, the jumping off point to Boca Cerrada. We made our way down the estuary toward the sea and stopped at a large home where the alcalde and his regidores were having a cabilde abierto (La Masica’s mayor and city council were having an open council meeting.) At which Jovenes sin Fronteras with myself in a supporting role were on the agenda. After our presentation, four of us continued down the estuary to a wide spot in the water where we could reach the Caribbean Sea via a small hut that was lived in by several people, most of them children. When we returned, our companeros were waiting for us and we loaded up for the return trip, my JSF colleagues Delia and Araceli and I posed for a photo before they loaded into the lancha with the waiting city council members. On our trip in another lancha for us remaining we saw cranes, turtles, a manatee feeding at water’s edge and in the second-to-last picture a monkey barely visible near the bright spot on the right of the pic. Click on the pic to see the black of its body. The old dugout canoe in the final pic is something I would not set sail in, ever.
The north coast of Honduras is such a beautiful land. Everywhere you look multiple shades of green fill the landscape. Stands of coconut trees, banana, tamarind, mango, date, forests with trees I can’t identify and fields of pineapple stretch as far as the eye can see. Several rivers, the Ulua, Lean, Cangrejal, Cuero, San Juan, Papaloteca and the Salado among them drain down onto the fertile coastal plain from the Nombre de Dios mountain chain with its tropical-forest clad, cloud-covered peaks as a backdrop. I accompanied the youth group Jovenes sin Fronteras on a reunion, a learning retreat, to a riverside park on the San Juan River that was a wonder to behold. Our learning objective was HIV/AIDS prevention demonstrating the proper use of condoms to ten youth who will teach others of their peers. We had a great lunch on this beautiful Friday afternoon and played games to foster trust and self-esteem.
Two days before the earthquake our equipo of six from the La Masica Centro de Salud was at the aldea to provide Honduran support to a U.S medical evangelical brigada that provided two nurse practitioners, a small pharmacy, gifts, and a small U.S. support staff to screen patients who live far from any medical providers. The brigada was in town for only a week and visited five different aldeas. An aldea is a hamlet located far from populated areas, most with limited services. The centro de salud in La Masica and the one in San Juan Pueblo can handle most of the chronic problems that presented, and with MDs, not FNPs, however a large number of persons showed up for the free medical care, free limited medications, and a gift for each member of the 50 chosen families whose size ranged from two to seven or so. I originally started out as a translator but when the brigade found out I was an RN I was pressed into service doing triage and screening for the NPs who diagnosed and prescribed meds. The photo on the left shows the triage building, next to that is a guy peeking into the small building where the NPs held court. Most folk walked to the event, some rode horses. The last pic on the right shows a newborn calf, still wet, walking by with its mother’s tiny herd. Three small buildings constitute the center of this isolated rural community.