The former Blogmaster is stepping in for Blogmaster Marco Francisco for the epilogue blog. This is a duty I don’t take lightly. Familiar with the rigors of the blogosphere from days long gone by, I understand and appreciate it enough to commend Marco Francisco’s steadfast dedication to this sphere. I know what it takes to summon the will to write a blog on a nightly basis, after eight hour days in the grueling heat, and I praise Marco Francisco for assuming this duty and carrying the torch of the Federation’s once key communication portal . It takes a commitment. It takes minute detail. It takes a holy life. It takes emotion, it takes dedication…
First I will recap a few highlights Marco Francisco hasn’t already touched on in his previous blogs.
First and most importantly is the Chicken Choker incident on 21 de Mayo, Day 8, when we were all sitting around the kiddie tables in the Laguna del Carmen schoolhouse dining on PB sandwiches (PB & J minus the J) for lunch, when Dirk spotted this guy:
Meet: Rhinostomus Barbirostris, or as it’s known in the northern mountains of Honduras, the Chicken Choker. Or in Spanish, “escarabajo.” This impressively sinister looking beetle of 3+ inches in length was observing our lunch from the wall when Dirk spotted it, and, with cojones of grade 5 Titanium, attempted to bag the thing in a ziploc. And succeeded!
We had Daniella ask the locals just exactly what this mean looking insect was, and more importantly, the purpose of that weird looking orange, fuzzy appendage protruding from its cranium complete with two antennae and a spout-like orifice on the fuzzy tip of its extremity. The locals informed Daniella this beetle was known as “The Choker” because it’s specialty is choking chickens. The fuzzy appendage’s function is to penetrate the esophagus of the chicken, inject a fluid which chokes the chicken, and wait for the chicken to meet its unpleasant demise before consuming the dead tissue in the chicken’s throat destroyed by the toxicity of the injected fluid.
Right on! This beetle garnered our immediate respect. Any insect that can choke a chicken is worthy of these curious gringos’ admiration. It’s too bad that when we returned to the jobsite on 22 de Mayo, Day 9, we found the chicken choker lying cold and dead on the concrete floor of the schoolhouse, no doubt trampled cruelly to death by the schoolhouse kids, who kill this beetle without hesitation out of fear that it will bring swift death to one of their family’s chickens. We circled around and paid our respects to the chicken choker, recited a brief prayer (RIP Laguna Del Carmen Chicken Choker) and assured it that there will be more chickens to choke in the afterlife.
Dirk’s next find came between standing off in the corner to consume some canned jalapeño tuna and pulling sardines in salsa out of the can a la carte. This one was more familiar to us. Though, equally menacing nonetheless. A foe that only the Scorpion King can quell. Except that he was squealing like a sissy at the mere sight of it.
Centruroides gracilis. To witness this scorpion and the Chicken Choker in a knock-down, drag-out duel would be a real treat indeed. I would give the slight edge to the Centruroides gracilis just because it is battle tested and known as one of the more skilled fighters of the invertebrates. The Chicken Choker is a relative mystery, though we did conclude from closely examining it’s movements that it seemed to lack speed, meaning it would likely lack the ability to apply the proper torque necessary to strike the speedy scorpion with it’s fuzzy appendage. The scorpion also has the advantage defensively, likely being able to block the strikes of the fuzzy appendage with its pinchers, though the effect of the fuzzy appendage on any area of the scorpion’s exoskeleton is unknown. We can determine though that if the fuzzy appendage found the throat the scorpion would be doomed.
I think most of the team would agree that our last two days were the hardest. The kind of mook mixing and hauling in direct sunlight and oppressive heat we subjected ourselves to in Pinelejo will wear a body down (even a Honduran, as evidenced by the fatigue of Marcos), but it’s always more than that. It’s the emotional toll of knowing the trip is nearly over and that we’re going to be leaving pieces of ourselves behind when we leave. Two of our veteran team members are talking about not returning with us next year, which brings another dimension of sadness to our team.
Hodo, you don’t have many friends, but you’ll always have this:
Que Pasa, don’t ever doubt yourself. You’ve still got it.
Lama, congrats on being this year’s AM Award winner. Three times in seven days. Impressive.
And Mater… happy birthday. I hope you enjoyed the Mariachi trio singing the special birthday song to you on the beach.
To everyone else, Deniella, Minor 69er, our Honduran friends, the 5th graders in Pinelejo who let us help them with their English homework, the Honduran military, the volunteer mason, the 3x deportee with a 10-year probation who ate pizza with us, Marcos the Moocher, Blackie… thank you all. We couldn’t do it without you guys. The more we come the more we all feel like family. The community of Quimistan/Pinalejo and the community of Wilkesboro are inextricably linked. We will be back next year, and we will look forward all year to seeing you guys again.
Here’s this year’s cast, in order of appearance:
Senor Jefe Pastor Rey – Chris Lakey
Senor Mater – Jerry Kilby
Marco Francisco Valle Valle – Mark Reavill
Que Pasa – Kay Hayes
Quanda – Wanda Sapp
Hodo – Tom Schardt
Dirk – Derrick Smithey
JJ – Jacob Smithey (Son of Dirk)
KC – Casey Woodruff
Lama – Lorie Triplett
B-Rad (Am) – Brad Triplett
Photo collage courtesy of: Quanda Sapp
Until next year, when the blossoms sprout anew. This sphere signing out.