Thursday, February 01, 2007

Man oh man, this has to be the longest gap between blogs yet. Sorry to my faithful readers, if I even have any of those. Pretty interesting couple of months on this end. In December I traveled to Indiana to finally meet my fiancé’s family. I was expecting some sort of a mix between that movie Meet the Parents and the scene in Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd is day dreaming about meeting Mary Swanson’s friends and family and lights his own flatulence causing an enormous fireball, immediately earning the love and respect of everyone. I guess it went something like that. Seriously, Em’s friends and family were fantastic; I didn’t feel at all nervous or uncomfortable. It was great seeing where she grew up and meeting the people she grew up with. I did catch some strange virus while I was there (or brought it with me, who can really tell?) and was pretty sick for a couple of days. One morning I woke up and I couldn’t stop burping, and worse my burps tasted terrible, like rotten cheerios (I don’t know how else to describe it). I’m sure they smelled even worse. My stomach got really distended and it looked like I was smuggling a basketball under my shirt, or that I was pregnant. It was then that I decided I needed to go to the doctor. The nice part about the whole ordeal is that I was placed on medical hold and “forced” to extend my trip until everything cleared up.

Once I got back to Honduras I headed up to my site to clear my head a bit for a few days then bused it out to my friend Connie’s site of San Marcos de Ocotepeque for a medical brigade. It was a ton of fun, I worked as a translator for a nurse in triage. It was a very rewarding and interesting experience. My friend Kathryn and I were the only translators working in triage so we got to see everything, including some very interesting cases. A common complaint was having “squirrels” running through their bodies; another good one was worms in the brain. Kathryn even had a woman come in that was complaining of not being able to have an orgasm and was wondering if it was her or her husband’s fault. I don’t know how she kept a straight face but she did. Aside from the interesting descriptions of complaints the work was very rewarding. I really liked helping kids. Children came in with lice, scabies, bot fly larvae (a parasite that grows into a pretty good sized worm in your skin, I had one in Belize a couple of years back), skin ulcers, and were generally malnourished from poor diets and stomach parasites. The doctors were able to do a great deal to ease their pain and get them the medication and treatment they needed. It was nice to see parents smiling and walking away with bags full of vitamins and parasite meds. This is the kind of stuff I joined the Peace Corps to do.

After the brigade I had a 3 day long project reconnect with the volunteers from my project. It involved another half day spent on cramped buses and ten hour days in the classroom sharing experiences and learning new extension techniques. It was kind of a bummer after such a good experience at the brigade but it was good to see some people I hadn’t seen in awhile. After that I headed to Santa Rosa to spend some time watching cable television and reading at our Peace Corps house. I was looking for a chance to decompress before having to go to Cruz Alta and be a “responsible” volunteer again. No such luck, my friend Ellen sent a message that my ninth graders were having their graduation and I needed to get back for it. So I hopped another bus, hung the thumb out in Gracias and caught a ride to La Campa where I met up with Ellen, and made the hour hike back up to Cruz Alta with a half an hour to spare before the graduation. The graduation was fantastic and I was really glad I made it. Nobody thought I would and everyone was surprised to see me. I gave a short speech at the beginning and watched as each of my students received their diplomas and gave a short talk in return. My best friend here, Elias, said some really nice things about how this whole thing wouldn’t have happened without me and it really choked me up. He is a great friend and is extremely appreciative, something that is occasionally hard to find here. His son, Javier, also just got back from visiting a neurologist in San Pedro Sula (the second largest trip). Javier had a very high fever awhile back and had actually gone into seizures a couple of times. Elias was worried that he might not make it. My parents’ sent some money down so that Elias could take him to a pediatric neurologist. Everything turned out fine with his examination, they gave him some medicine and he should be completely normal in a week or so. Good news all around. Hope everyone is having a good winter and that at least a few of you are making some turns. Peace---Joe


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