Torn apart by wild dogs…
Almost torn apart. The attack was thwarted, the carnage averted. No thanks to me, however.
It all started when Dr. Rick and Dr. Dan came to visit us. It was late last month, when we were extremely short-handed at the hospital. We were incredibly grateful that these two family docs came down to help us out for 10 days. Both active duty in the Army, these guys knew their stuff and they came to work hard.
This wasn’t their first rodeo, as they had traveled to Africa as well to do some missionary work. Interestingly, they subscribed to the Martian diet, which consists of potatoes. Just potatoes. But I think they fell off the potato wagon once they got a taste of the savory Honduran Baleada.
Part of this discipline of mind, body, spirit, and potatoes, was a regimen of early morning runs down the dusty road that follows the North Coast of Honduras. And it was one such morning that I asked to run with them and off we went, shortly after sunrise. The run was pleasant and initially uneventful, as we made our way to the small village of San Luis. I pointed out to them where a young man was shot in the face, across from the soccer field (see my recent post for details). This was a good turn-around point, so we headed back and when we got to a local beach access, called ‘La Quinta,’ I had the bright idea to take them down to the water. The beach is quite beautiful (when you look past all the garbage that has washed up) and it ends in an area fronted by a mangrove forest, which is spectacular.
On previous runs last year, I had been able to return back to the hospital following this scenic beach route. It borders along some private land, but I figured if we stayed on the narrow beach we wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes. What I didn’t account for was that it had been 6 months since I had taken this route, and the beach terrain changes quite a bit over time. The waves have a way of creating new sand shelves, or washing away ledges, and downing trees. So when we encountered our first obstacles, it was either go swimming or enter the jungle.
We opted for the somewhat drier jungle route, and there was a fairly worn path that made the choice easy. The way was beautiful, meandering through a forrest of large trees with broad, buttressed roots spreading out into the swampy terrain. We came across a leaf-cutter ant colony, and Dan and Rick marveled at their industriousness. I think it was around here that we heard the dogs start barking.
There were several downed limbs on the ground that we quickly picked up, in anticipation of a confrontation. The stick I picked up was extremely light, and I realized it had already been visited by the termites, rotten and pretty useless. The barking came nearer. We saw that there was a little hut/champa off in the trees, someone’s makeshift home. And apparently he had watchdogs. They came into view, three of them, barking and running toward us.
The typical Honduran dog is a mutt, usually cachectic and wiry due to malnutrition and parasites. They’re usually pretty submissive, running away at any sign that you aren’t afraid of them. But these dogs weren’t afraid, and they spread out in front of us, baring their fangs and inching forward. Remember Cujo? They looked just. like. that…
This was about the time when I started to act like a total weany. My flight response quickly overpowered my fight response. I threw my rotting stick down and backed away, preparing to run.
In retrospect, I think these so-called dogs were more likely wolves. I didn’t realize that wolves existed this far down the Americas, but I’m convinced these must have been wolves. Why else would I be so terrified? Yes, they must have been wolves. Or Dingos. Anyway, a very formidable canine, and any self-respecing, non-total-pussy man in his right state of mind would have been within his rights to just run. Also, in my defense, I have been bitten by dogs twice in my long running career (Kim, if you’re reading this, I still forgive you for your dog attacking me… even though I wake up in a cold sweat, sometimes, at night, with my blankie. weeping…).
I’m the seasoned missionary veteran, having been here for over a year. Presumably, I know how to handle all the curve-balls that the Honduran jungle can throw at you. So I figured Rick and Dan would follow my lead and we would all tuck tail and run. But apparently that Army training can’t be shaken off too easily. Apparently even doctors in the army are trained to kick some ass. Because Dan and Rick started swinging sticks, yelling, and advancing on the dogs. I’m pretty sure I saw them do some back flips, and round-house MMA-style kicks as well. And I think Dan invited them to say hello to his little friend (you really need to click on that link or you are likely going to think I’m making some lewd innuendo). In any event, their display of Machisimo started to turn the tide in our favor, and the dogs slowly retreated. For my part, I stood there, cheering them on, urine running down my inner thigh. Finally, the
dogs wolves gave up the fight and trotted back to their camp. And we breathed a sigh of relief.
Later, after I had changed my underwear, we were able to have a good laugh about it. We decided that we would take the water route instead, so we waded up to our navels in the refreshing surf, and made our way past the downed trees. I apologized to them for all the chaos that went down, but they had a great response: “we came to Honduras for adventure, and that’s what you gave us!”
A Couple prayer requests:
- Car problems. Our car is broken. Needs fixin.’ Hope it’s not too expensive… 🙂
- Spanish. My spanish still sucks.
- Heidi has started teaching Kindergarten. She has 20 kids in her class that don’t speak English and she needs to teach them how to do so. And do it in a patient and loving manner.
- Owen. He is now in 5th grade here and his classes are all in Spanish. He is struggling with this.
- Alenjandrina. A young lady who has a bad heart and has had a stroke, and she’s only about 40 yrs old. That her body would gradually heal.
- Maria. A young lady who has been battered by her husband, and doesn’t have many options. I’ll write more about her later.
- Honduran men. We need the men in this community to ‘man up,’ and lead their families. Take responsibility.
Dios le Bendiga, amigos (God Bless you, friends)