Category Archives: Honduras

Paramedics on the Plane

kissthesky

Not the picture you were expecting with the above title, huh? Well, after my plane ordeal (turbulence and…yeah), I had to pay respects to the sky with a big smooch.

Before I delve into details, I just want to shout out #Deltaairlines , flight DL 849 on November 15, 2014 from Atlanta to Tegucigalpa.  Your kindness and professionalism really helped ease my troubled mind (and body). Now on to the news…

I decided to take a quick weekend trip to the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, to meet a friend who currently lives and teaches there. It was so cool how we met (I will tell you all that later)! Anyway, after mucho planning I was finally able to get myself there. She told me that Tegucigalpa was totally different from my most visited area of Honduras, Roatan, and I was eager to check it out. She warned me about how short the landing strip was into Tegucigalpa and how the planes typically brake really hard. She mentioned that people literally clap when they land safely there, as it’s deemed one of the most dangerous landings in the world.  Add to that my recent apprehension of flying (yeah, after having flown tons of times before), I was NOT looking forward to this.

I was super nervous flying from my city to Atlanta , but surprisingly calm when flying from Atlanta to Tegucigalpa. I was no longer scared about the short landing strip at all. I even struck up a conversation with the lady who sat next to me who just so happened to be in the medical field as I am.  It seemed like the 3 hour flight took forever, so I watched the movie ‘Lucy’ before dozing off to sleep. Then I awoke to this fainting feeling during descent.

Next thing I remember, the nurse I sat next to quickly sprang into action as I had passed out, stretched across the three seats of our row.  I remember feeling her lifting up my legs in the air, her wiping under my nose with an alcohol swab, the flight attendants asking me if I had a history of seizures, them discussing how many minutes they had until landing, them telling the other passengers to not leave the plane once it landed because paramedics would be arriving for me…LIKE WHOA. I heard the attendants  asking each other ‘how many more minutes to landing?’ The answer went from five, to three, to one minute.

OH
EM
GEE.

Still woozy but able to comprehend what was about to happen, I urged them to get into a seat and not worry about me. I didn’t want them to face a harsh landing, but the flight attendants ignored me. They were so concerned about me. I recall the lady flight attendant telling me to press against the tray/seat in front of me so that I wouldn’t fall upon landing. I mustered up all of the strength in my body to do just that and what do you know…the landing wasn’t AS bad as how I felt, lol.

Everyone clapped, too!

Next thing I know, the paramedics arrived to tend to me. I was so embarrassed because all eyes were on me and what the hell was going on. Drenched , the paramedics took my blood pressure and my pulse. I was starting to feel a bit better when I noticed my pulse was improving and my O2 Saturation was normal.

After sitting up a bit, I told the flight attendant I was so sweaty, even under my pants.

She then told me, ‘honey, that’s not sweat…you wet yourself.’

OH
EM
GEE!!!

Embarrassment to the max! I just cried and cried and cried. They kept reassuring me that it was okay and that they were concerned about me and they truly were. This made me feel a ton better. She asked if I had a change of clothes and I did, but it’s crazy though. The one time I tried packing light was the time I needed more clothes!

I thought it was over once I started regaining my composure, but when I tell you the paramedics didn’t let me out of their sight, they didn’t let me out of their sight. They escorted me to the on site medical doctor in the airport near customs. After the doctor checked me out and was comfortable with my release, they escorted me in a wheelchair to the front of the customs line (major plus despite the circumstances). I told them I needed to use the restroom. Oh my gosh, ya’ll. When I got up to go to the restroom, I then saw how much I peed on myself.  I almost started crying again, but I didn’t.

The paramedics got my friend’s contact information as she was in route to the airport. They stayed by my side until she came and gave her orders to let me rest and to not eat anything greasy. She let me rest, but she couldn’t keep me from the grease. I had pizza with friends later that night. 😉

thegang
Yum Grub Time!
hecaughtme
Mr. Camera Man Playing with My Ipod

 

 

 

 

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SistaVoyage Vs The Caribbean Sea

staring

If you knew of a person who had 2 sets of private swim lessons PLUS a group swim lesson recently , wouldn’t you assume that person knew how to effectively swim? Probably so, right? Well, tell me what is MY problem, lol!  Apart from showering, brushing my teeth and taking baths, the water and I are not the best of friends. At the age of 25, I took my first set of private lessons (4 total) where I discovered if you give me a noodle and some fins, I could swim without stopping. On the flip side ,take away the noodle and the fins and it would be a DISASTUH.

The second set of lesson results (again 4 total) were a sad repeat of the first.  I was ready to practice my strokes, but I ended up nearly stroking due to the choking of water I seemed to always swallow. The only maneuver I could show off outside of the class was me pushing myself from the wall and swimming UNDER water. I couldn’t bring my head up for air to save my life!  While I didn’t give up, I left large quantities of la agua alone for a while. Then one day I got bold…kinda.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, it was just this year so it wasn’t much to remember, ha ha.

On Good Friday 2013 in Roatan, Honduras, me and two other ladies who were staying at the Roatan Backpacker’s Hostel decided to take a stroll to West End. We kept walking and walking and before we knew it, we were on West Bay Beach, where all of the action was happening. We noticed several people (mainly children and teens) jumping off of this wooden deck into the sea. ‘I want to jump in, but I can’t swim well,’ I announced to the ladies.  What did I do that for? ‘Well, I am going to dive in and I will help you out if you jump. I used to be a life guard,’ ‘J’ said to me.  I felt a mixture of nervous energy and curiosity throughout my body. She noticed my hesitance and started to mildly taunt me while mixing in a little encouragement. Nice.

So, did I suck up my sea fear or did I shrink back in it?  Well, I did a little bit of both, lol. See what actually happened in this short video clip below.

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The Extinction of My Volunteer Elitism

sandybay
Orphanage in Honduras

I have a confession to make that I am not very proud of.

You see, there was a time when I believed that volunteering my time and services to others in need ONLY extended within the United States and even then, there were stipulations of WHO should receive my help.

In short, I was a ‘volunteer elitist.’

Several years ago, I held tight to a mentality of ‘them over there vs. them over here,’ which developed over the course of time, sparked by debates with others on various subjects. One hot topic I remember discussing amongst my peers was Americans adopting children from other countries when there were children here in the United States who needed a home, too. ‘You shouldn’t take from one child and give to the other’ was a common retort that kind of shut others up who believed it was absolutely okay for those who decide to adopt to do so in other countries. I must admit, noticing this comment receive nods and ‘umm hums’ from the majority caused me to dismiss how I truly felt and I ended up believing the ‘shut em up’ group had it all right and I had it all wrong. Nevertheless, my mind still pondered ‘umm, isn’t this decision that of the those who adopted and them only?’

Fast forward to a few years later.

I got older (inevitably) and started to TRUST my own beliefs, opinions and instincts. I realized and accepted that my total allegiance in assisting others is NOT solely within the confines of the U.S. If time, money and effort exist in my life, I can donate it to whoever is in need or want, no futile debates necessary, no explanations to anyone on my part. Who cares if I am separated from others via miles of oceans, seas, jungles, mountains when I can hop on/in trains, planes, boats and automobiles to arrive at my destination! Despite there being several layers of cultural, race, religious and language differences, it has never discouraged me from giving/receiving and vice versa.

Thankfully, this mentality guided me to volunteer at the Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro Belize and later at Sandy Bay Lighthouse ministries and Clinica Esperanza in Roatan, Honduras. I meet several AWESOME people during these times, ranging from children to adults. Now, whenever I plan a voyage, I make SURE my itinerary includes volunteer work before I enter into a country. I try my best to lend my skills, time, experience and generosity to others who share my same geographic location and to those who don’t.

A beautiful, meaningful song (circa 1985, not the recent auto tuned remake, but I digress :) ) comes to my mind when I think about the impact, small or great, we ALL have the ability to make GLOBALLY:


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My Doctor Said ‘Malaria.’

                                                      Source
Source

I can attest that being a pharmacist definitely has it perks and problems. One perk is the amount of knowledge I have when it comes to both prescription and nonprescription drugs. One MAJOR problem is I know TOO much to the point where I am a physician’s worst patient. While I’ll agree to testing and examinations recommended, I am not so willing to take pills. Imagine my resistance to my physician’s plea for me to not just consider, but to actually take ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills for my 2 week stay in Honduras.

What are ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills you ask? An example would be Doxycycline vs Malarone.  Doxycycline, an antibiotic, has several indications, ie, treating acne, skin infections, lyme disease in addition to preventing malaria. Malarone is used to treat AND prevent malaria, thus it’s a ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pill.

I’ve taken Doxycycline in the past for a previous trip to Honduras, but I was only there briefly. The instructions were for me to take it at least 2 days before arrival and continue for the next 28 days after departure, but like I said earlier, I don’t like taking pills. Right before I left the country, I stopped taking them. Plus the side effects, ie, sun burn, yeast infections, nausea/vomiting, etc were not what I wanted to deal with while away.

Staying for 2 weeks in a CDC-warned malaria area of Honduras was a bit more challenging, though. I had to look at the facts and totally ignore my feelings.

Fact one:   Mosquitoes love me.
Fact two:    I hate mosquitoes
Fact three: Mosquitoes love me despite my hate for them and this increased my chance of acquiring malaria.

Image courtesy of [SweetCrisis] http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of [SweetCrisis] http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I had a choice to make- prevent malaria or possibly contract malaria. Facing reality and reading about victims of this disease, I decided, albeit reluctantly, to wave the white flag to my physician and fill her prescription of (my choice) Malarone. I figured that the inconvenience of taking a tablet at the same time daily with possible minor side effects here and there was definitely worth not hearing my doctor say ‘you have malaria,’ which can be fatal.

Have you taken anti-malarials in the past? Why or why not?

Are you planning a trip out of the U.S.? Unsure if you will be entering a high risk malarial country? Need help deciding which prophylaxis would be appropriate for you? Check out the links below so that you and your health care provider can make an informed decision about your health and well-being concerning this matter.

http://www.cdc.gov/MALARIA/

http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/malaria.aspx



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Semana Santa in Roatan, Honduras

Semana Santa AKA Holy Week-  A week of religious celebration that leads up to Easter Sunday.

Two years had passed since my first solo trip to the island and in between that time, I went through what I label ‘Roatan Withdrawal.’ Maintaining contact with those that I met in 2011 during my stay and being asked the question ‘when are you coming back to see us?’ only intensified the withdrawal symptoms. While the desire was always in my heart to revisit, my debt to income ratio and getting approved time off from work kept me from returning sooner.

I heard about Semana Santa previously and decided this would be a great time to kick the hiatus in the nads and GO! I envisioned the week as being ‘one big island block party’ engulfed with tons of cultural festivities for all to enjoy. I daydreamed about people verbally and physically proclaiming their love for this week throughout the streets of Roatan. I could ‘see’ churches extending their hours to the public, welcoming all to come in, hear sermons and sing songs about the significance of Semana Santa.

So in December 2012, I purchased a flight specifically for the week of March 25 to March 31, 2013.

Super excited about what I was going to experience, I emailed a friend who has lived in Roatan for over 12 years to inquire about the cultural festivities that would be happening during that time. Her email reply had me scratching my chin:

‘There are not many cultural activities here during Semana Santa, people basically celebrate by drinking a lot on West Bay beach.’

Fa Real?? But wait, this is HOLY WEEK!!!!

She also explained that it is usually very crowded, businesses close early during the week, and many people spend time with their families.

Wha??? Are you sure? Say wha ‘na?

The fantasy bubble of the ‘huge block party celebration’ burst and turned into mental droplets of a bunch of people hanging around getting drunk, me pushing my way through rowdy crowds, traffic being backed up for miles, and grocery stores being closed for several days.

Oh and guess what else? I completely forgot that since this was a holiday week, hostels, resorts, and hotels charged almost DOUBLE what they normally request.

Dangit!

I wanted to cancel this trip, but I didn’t. I decided to extend my stay so that I could experience the wildness of that week then the calm once it’s over. I am so glad I did because…

Neither extreme I envisioned  about Semana Santa in Roatan was true.

Yes, West Bay Beach was crowded on Good Friday, but it wasn’t unbearable:
westbay
Yes, people were drinking and partying in West End and West Bay:
jumppartytime

But there were moments of peace, too:
baysittingYes, some businesses did close, but if you needed essentials, you could still purchase them somewhere else.

Remember!!! 20 Lempiras (L. 20) equals $1!!!
Remember!!! 20 Lempiras (L. 20) equals $1!!!

What was DEFINITELY true about this holiday week was the family aspect. While walking around, I saw a family singing hymns and reading from Bibles in front of their home in celebration of Semana Santa. I witnessed families enjoying each other on beaches. Several people went to other cities in Honduras and to other countries to spend quality time with their loved ones and vice versa.

For me, while I didn’t have family there before, I certainly do now! One family I’d NEVER MET BEFORE in my life treated me like their long, lost,  loved relative to the extent of welcoming me into their home for conversation and good home cooking!!!

This:

Fresh Queenfish!
Fresh Queenfish!

Plus This:

beansricebanana
Beans, Rice and a Boiled Banana

Resulted in This!

gone!

Semana Santa in Roatan, you are alright with Sista :) ¡Me gusta usted mucho y le veré en el futuro!

 

 

 

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To Sub or Not to Sub… That is Definitely the Question Now

Oh, Sweet Idabel…
idabelSource

You all love me, right? Well, I love you all, too, and I respect your opinion about this crucial decision. My first, solo voyage to Roatan was super rushed due to last minute arrangements and uncertain time off availability on my job. I was trying to figure out how to cram activities into 3 full days when I saw this submarine expedition and I was soooo stocked about it! Problem? Well, I didn’t have that much time and definitely not enough money (the cheapest expedition was $400). Well, I am headed back to my love soon and will be staying for 2 weeks (I WILL get it in, ha ha)! I am going to make sure my time in Roatan will be fulfilling to the max this time.

Okay, here’s where I need your overflow of love for me. I consider myself pretty adventurous (hey, remember I did the sea plane tour of Roatan AND I travel solo), but this expedition makes me super anxious and I haven’t even reserved anything yet! Click here to see what the heck has me shook up.

As you can see, you can do a variety of deep sea tours. I am only considering the 1,000 feet tour at this time because it’s $400 and I will be that deep in the sea for only 1 hour and 30 minutes. The six gill shark tour would be AWESOME, but…that joker’s $1500 AND you are in the sea for about 5-9 hours! No sir/ma’am, that’s okay. The pictures are enough :)

So what say you? Should I do it? Should I just imagine doing it? Would you do it? If so, which expedition would you choose? Would you be scared, like I am now? (I can literally see myself tearing up entering into this joker.) Check out the praise reviews here from tripadvisor.com.

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Do You Purposefully Travel?

 

Banner at Holy Cross School in Belize

My first time out of the country was for my wedding in 2006 to Jamaica and I didn’t do much at all (mainly because of compromising, ya know). Matter of fact, I didn’t take any authority over planning the trip. I gladly gave that responsibility to a travel agency. Me and my now ex-husband traveled back to Jamaica in 2007 and once again, we didn’t do much. We stayed on a couple’s centered resort called Sandals and felt there wasn’t a need to venture out for exploration. It was comforting to be in a structured environment such as a resort. Everything desired was right at my fingertips and I was treated like royalty. I thought that was what traveling was all about, nothing more and definitely nothing less.

From there, I kept traveling, but I was still operating as a ‘typical tourist,’ mainly traveling as a form of relaxation up until, yes people, the turning point as many of you all know- my 2011 visit to Honduras. In June 2012, I went a step further and actually volunteered at Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro, Belize and that’s when it all made sense.

My purpose for traveling now is to provide others that same comfort Sandals extended to me. I want to serve and make people feel like royalty. I want to gain more cultural awareness and stop limiting myself to what I’ve been taught is the ‘right way to live.’  Will I get my relax and fun on? Of course, but that’s no longer my drive. For the first time, I am excited about purposefully traveling- are you?

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