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My Worst Month Ever

After I returned from La Esperanza somewhat refreshed, I met another friend and her family at La Guaruma. She was a nice woman who was probably about five years my senior. They were going to the Rio Negro to wash clothes and play in the water. It was a very amusing day, except that while we were there everyone wanted to wear my hat. Unbeknownst to me, some of them had lice, so you can guess what happened a little while later! I learned not to lend my hat to anyone after that!

Sadly, these are the last pictures that I took until I went to SF for vacation in July, because my camera suddenly went missing. It was stolen during February some time. Any other photos that you see in the next few months were taken at a later date, but I felt they fit well where I inserted them.

Later that week, I went to Guachipilin to visit Don F, the farmer with the large family. Arriving at the house, I didn't see anyone but the dog. It ran out, and bit me right in the shin. Soon after, Don F came out and apologized, telling me the dog was vaccinated. I stayed at his house for awhile, because I was in pain. He gave me a pill, which I shouldn't have accepted per Peace Corps rules. It made me drowsy, because it must have been too powerful. That's why Peace Corps told us not to take medicine from Hondurans. They sell all sorts of perscription drugs over the counter! I didn't follow those directions a few times, and for the most part it worked out. Don't ask, don't tell!

Anyway, it was nice to plan our future work, and talk about a meeting he wanted to attend with me. He said he would stop by my room in Concepcion at 6 am. Well, I woke up early on the day appointed, but he never showed. We didn't go, even though he was supposedly president of the group. Planning this event was a total waste.

After resting at Don F's house, I made my way home slowly. I stayed home for a few days, not feeling like I could walk very well. I even got a cold. I figured that I didn't need to get the rabies shots, because the dog was vaccinated, or so Don F said. I did send a telegram to the Peace Corps office notifying them, though.

In Concepcion, there was a famous story about a Peace Corps volunteer named M, who had come before me, and married a Honduran man. Right from the start, people thought that I might be the next victim. I wasn't sure myself, but I thought probably not. My friend N's younger brother, H started talking about a bet he wanted to make, where I would pay him $100, if I married a Honduran. I vehemently disagreed with this arrangement, but it did seem amusing. From the start I felt that if things were different with N, I could have married him, but he was too young for me. There were also some other considerations that I will get into, when the time is appropriate. At this juncture I wrote that, I knew I wouldn't marry anyone else, as long as he was around. This proved to be true.

After the fire in Concepcion, we weren't getting along as well, and I figured there wasn't a future in it. We would talk some, but it wasn't the same. One evening N told me that he was changing his whole course of study, because the person that he loved didn't love him. That would be me. He was leaving for medical school the next morning, and would be gone for two months. Well, that was a surprise, but kind of a relief. I wistfully told him goodbye and good luck.

At this time, I had a sector meeting with the other Agricultural Extentionists at Lago de Yajoa. We were going to have more training and motivational discussions. It came at just the right time, since my work moral was low, and things seemed to be going downhill in every way. During this time, the second year volunteers gave us newbies some ideas on how to get people to cooperate more. I found out that I wasn't the only one struggling, and I felt relieved when comparing my level of productivity with some of the others. We played lots of spades (cards), swam in the lake, and supported each other through our difficulties. I didn't eat much for three days, because of food poisoning, but my friend M and I talked quite a bit.

One day, I mentioned my itchy scalp, when one of the women, said that she'd had lice. I asked her to inspect my head, and sure enough I had the aunts, uncles, and cousins all running around on my scalp. She gave me some prescription shampoo which I used. I thought I was all done with that story.

After the sector workshop, I found out from my mother that one of my father's distant cousins lived in Tegucigalpa. He worked for USAID, and his wife was Colombian. I decided to call them and introduced myself. They invited me to visit their house that night. They had a bathtub, which was the best. All I had were cold bucket showers in Concepcion, so that was living in the lap of luxury! They had two young girls, with whom I watched Disney movies. I spent some nice times with them over the next year and a half. It was definitely a positive connection.

On my way home from Tegucigalpa, I was waylaid in La Esperanza, by a message from the Peace Corps Office which wanted to see me right away. They said that the dog's rabies vaccination might not have been strong enough, and that I had to get the rest of the rabies series, right away! I had already gotten three preliminary shots in the arm, so I was somewhat protected, but I had to have the other two over the course of four days in Tegucigalpa. What a pain! I'd already been out of Concepcion for a week, and now I had to spend another four days just sitting around waiting to get the shots.

I stayed at Cafe Allegro, which was the Peace Corps hangout. At least, I was able to play the piano, and see some movies. I went to five different movies. One time I went to two on the same day, but in different theaters. At least, there was something to do! Halfway through my stay at Cafe Allegro, I was asleep on one of the bunks, when I woke up to some noise and commotion. As I reached for the bathroom door, I realized it was hot! There was smoke all around, and everyone was waking up. We all ran downstairs and outside to waiting for the fire department to put out the fire. It turned out that somebody who wasn't a Peace Corps Volunteer had been using a blow torch in his room and started it. He was evicted. This was the second fire that I had lived through in three weeks. It was the strangest thing, because I had always dreamed about how my house was on fire, when I was young. Was it a premonition? Maybe.

Finally, I got the last rabies shot, and went home through La Esperanza. Dona D made me stay at her house, and she took at least 150 lice eggs off my scalp. We thought she'd gotten them all out, but unfortunately her daughter got lice from me. After that, she insisted that she hated me. I felt so bad! I wonder how many other people got it from me, too!

At long last, I made it home two weeks after I'd left. O and his family had moved into the front room off the courtyard, and they had completely overrun the place. It was very chaotic, but I met his wife, children and mother. Everybody was happy about my return, but they were surprised to see me. In fact, they thought that I'd left for good. It appeared that N was still around, and that he hadn't changed his career plans after all.

I was hoping my bad luck was over, but it wasn't. The merchants who lived next door showed up on Friday night with a new guy. He was very pushy with me, and wanted me to be his girlfriend. Sometimes, the courtyard situation was somewhat dangerous and secluded. This proved to be the case, but fortunately, he left on Sunday and never came back after that weekend. It was a most scary time. Each weekend, I waited for him to come back and bother me again. I even told O's wife D that I was scared he was going to rape me. Well, thank God he didn't return, and I slowly relaxed into the probability that he would never return.

My luck changed with an overnight stay at V's house. Her husband was away, and she wanted some company. I began to feel relaxed, and even slept well on her bed with no mattress. I looked forward to the class that I was going to have the next week with some other farmers in the area. It appeared that things were changing, but what a month it had been! Thank goodness it was over! This was probably the closest I got to leaving for good. What kept me there? Hope, idealism and youth, all of which I had!

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