A Crazy Thing Happened Next to the Maquiladoras

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
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Trip End ??? ??, 2007


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Flag of Honduras  ,
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I've been wanting to share a story about a very odd thing that happened to me on my way home from school, early last week.  It has nothing to do with my students, just my own experience:
 
With my pack loaded down with school books, papers, and lesson plans, strapped in place across my back, I had cut through the Zalia's property, down a slowly winding dirt road, past chicken breeding tents and the pineapple juice factory in town.  I closed the gate behind me and made a left onto the asphalt road that runs west out of town.  I had not walked far at all, just past the cigar factory on my right, and had begun a slow and short descent to the polluted and dirty creek at the bottom of the hill.
 
There was some buzzing close to me, and I very quickly became aware of two or three bees circling my head.  Just as soon as I had swatted at these intruders I realized that they were not alone, and there were many bees.  I began to swat at them even harder.  I looked up, over my shoulder to the left, and saw something I'd only seen in movies.  There was a swarm of bees, all coming toward me.  I don't know how many bees there actually were; twenty, thirty, fifty?  I have no idea.  But they formed a cloud that enveloped my entire upper body in a very short second or two.
 
You need to know, at this point, that growing up I was allergic to bees.  I had visited the hospital several times previously to ward off any ill effects.  I was rather proud of the time I had been "wounded" on the battlefield at Gettysburg during a family vacation.
 
This, however, was in no way amusing.  I was already swatting, batting, and hitting myself in the chest, arms, and face to chase off, kill, or get rid of my attackers in any way possible.  I ran over to the ditch, thinking I should get down low, and they would leave me?!?  I'm not sure where that thinking came from, and quickly realized it was of no value.
 
As I climbed back out of the ditch, covered with bees, stings, and I'm sure already sweating more than I had since November, some people across the street in a house along the hill were yelling at me in Spanish.  I hurried toward the house, continuing to swat, and bat, screaming, "What should I do?," in English.  As I neared the house I realized they were all backing away from me.  I decided that I should not get any closer to them.
 
I don't think I could possibly explain all that went through my brain at this time.  I do remember thinking, "people have died from massive bee stings, right?," and "that is exactly what is happening to me right now. Could I die, right here on the street to the maquiladoras?"  That may sound melodramatic, but at that time I felt this incredible sense of hopelessness.  I had no idea what to do or how I was going to stop this assault.
 
I think that for having no other hope, I simply started to run, still batting, smashing, and swearing the whole time.  They followed and continue to sting me.  I felt several of them, in what felt like a small cluster, dive into my hair, as though they were actually grabbing hold of my scalp.  I slapped them against my own skin as hard as I could, and swung at others.  I ran faster, wondering if they would follow me until I gave up.
 
As I neared the creek, I thought about submersing myself, but knew the creek was very shallow at the time, due to a lack of rain.  I had this image of myself half-submersed in dirty polluted water; cups, beer cans, and plastic bottles and bags all around me.  I dismissed this thought and kept running.
 
After running a little further I was aware that I was losing the bees, which were not keeping up with me.  Slowing down a bit, a man walking toward me, near the creek, was mumbling, "African, African!"  No sooner had I slowed enough to listen to this man than the bees were back on me, and just as intent on stinging me as before.  I looked at the man and said, "I don't know what to do."  He yelled, "Corre, corre, y no para!"  (Run, run, and don't stop!)  I took off, again, now on a level section, over the creek, and began running up the hill into town.  I'm not sure how far I had run when I realized there were no bees.  I was exhausted, but ran a little further.  When I did stop running I kept walking fast, and didn't look back.
 
I found at least twelve bees stings on my arms, face, and neck.  I also scraped (as I'd learned to do in boy scouts) numerous stingers off my body, as I found them in a variety of places all over my body, partially inserted in my skin.  When I finally got back to the volunteer house, an hour later, I broke down and cried.  I had not been so afraid of something in a long time.  We found more stingers, dead bees, and even a couple sets of bee's legs here and there that I must have knocked off as I smashed them in desperation.
 
Happily, I've had no short term problems with the attack, just a little swelling and redness.  One of the stings was right on the outside corner of my left eye.  It immediately swelled, and I thought it might even swell shut that night.  It did not get worse, although ten days later I still have a black eye.  The locals all ask me if I got the "ojo morado" (purple eye) from a fight, and motion as though they're hitting me.  I tell them, no, but I think they prefer the fight story over the real story.
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Comments

jkthom
jkthom on

friend from North
What a terrible experience. I'm glad you are recovering. You are looking great and happy.
Kay (from North Church New Corinthians)

jumeyers
jumeyers on

So Sorry!
Jon, This experience is SO FRIGHTENING! I am so glad you are ok, Jon. Love you, Julie

dudbud
dudbud on

Bab's first hist single. . .
'A Sleepin' Bee'. . .I bet you were wishin & hopin' your buddy bees had chosen to do the same instead of chase you down. I truly think they really just wanted to wish you a Happy 50TH BIRTHDAY ! ! ! (OK, so I'm only a month & a couple days late. . .wadaya gonna do, STING me?!?

Missing you, mi amigo. . .we'll party when you get home & come to de island, mon!

dudbud

rondawords
rondawords on

Happy you are alright now!
Amazing experience, Jon! Well portrayed in your words. How dreadful to be amongst people and the only one under attack... some strange metaphor?!
Interesting that you found yourself stronger than you were in your earlier life events... always nice to come back around to a hard spot and master it.
Not that you would savor this tidbit, but some bee stings are therapeutic. (I bet you already knew that.)
I'm so thankful this story has a peaceful ending, and very glad you are safe now. Hope you get what mileage is to be had from ojo morado! Love, Ronda

mmaexner
mmaexner on

Oh my Goodness!
Hi Jon,
I love reading your updates but was very anxious with this latest update. How scary! My sister is allergic to bees, and believe it or not, I've never been stung so don't know if I am or not. I'm so very glad you're OK. I would be just as scared.
I hope you're taking a different way home now & carry a big can of bug spray!
Take care. See you when you return!
Theb Yram (aka Mary Beth)

doulos
doulos on

Holy Bee Sting Batman!
Dear Jon,

I JUST read your blog entry tonight (a week later), inasmuch as things around here have been crazy and I haven't done much of anything with the computer.

WWWWWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

I don't know what to say?

That is absolutely incredible! I can attest to your reactions as a child, being treated at (I think) a Navy hospital once, following the 'Hospital' signs in Akron, and, of course, Gettysburg.

I am extremely grateful that you are ok.

You'd better find that guy that told you to run and not stop. Buy him lunch, dinner, a car, a house. Just a suggestion. :-O

Lots of love,
Steve and Beth

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