July 8, 2008


The following is another guest blog from Leslie who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras during 2000-2002. Besides volunteering in Honduras, Leslie has also worked in Angola and is currently working in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Her blog is Back in One Piece.

La Gringa’s post on La ENEE reminded me of the perils of electricity in Honduras. In our training, Peace Corps gave us a briefing on how to handle electricity issues in a developing country − always have candles and matches on hand, use a gas stove and try to turn off everything in an electrical storm. I should have paid more attention!

During my service I worked with the local high school, which had a specialty in business administration − a perfect fit for a small business volunteer like me. Every year the graduating class had to start and run their own business as a group. In 2000 the group decided to open a small bakery. Of course, none of them had any experience in baking so they had to bring an instructor from Tegucigalpa to teach them how to bake bread. They invited me to attend since I was helping train them on basic administrative topics. The training went well and one of the girls in the class had the idea to make pizza the last day of the training as a sort of celebration. The very fact of me being an American qualified me as a pizza expert, so I was in charge of buying the ingredients and organizing the cooking.

Some people had been to San Pedro Sula and Tegus and had eaten at Pizza Hut (back in those days, those places and La Ceiba were the only cities you could get Pizza Hut) and immediately said we should get sausage, meat and more sausage. I suggested some vegetablesbroccoli, onions, bell peppersand was met with immediate suspicion. “Trust me,” I said. “It will be good.”

The last day of the training happened on a very rainy, stormy day. I loved it when it rained in La Esperanza because the temperature dropped and the area turned a shade of green that I haven't often seen since. All week long we had been using an electric stove to prepare the ingredients. So, armed with my olive oil, garlic and plenty of veggies, I began to sauté the veggies for the pizza. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that last bit of advice that Peace Corps had given us during training, about not using electricity during an electrical storm. As I stood there, stirring the veggies with a metal spoon, in a metal pot, on an electric stovea bolt of lightning hit one of the power lines. So, I, in turn, got hit with a huge surge of electricity!

I remember screaming and dropping the spoon. I blacked out but apparently was conscious. When I came to a few minutes later, I was sitting outside and everyone was staring at me, wondering if the gringa would ever speak again. Still in shock − literally and figuratively − I asked what happened and then immediately burst into tears. (That was when all the men left the roomnothing to clear a room like a gringa crying!) Other than a bad burn on the hand that held the spoon, I was fine. I had permanent goose bumps for a day afterwards, and months later whenever I saw lightning or an electric stove I would feel a strange tingling sensation all over me (and not in a good way). I’ve gotten over that now, but I don’t think I’ll ever use an electric stove again!

Thanks go to Leslie for the guest blog and thank goodness she's still here to write about it! You can find Leslie's other articles about La Esperanza here:

Telecom and snail mail in La Esperanza, Honduras

The Post Office Lady wants contact lenses

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