Rabies and Rising Rivers

Ethan Jícaro 2 Comments

The game has changed. We returned to Esquipulas after our Mother’s Day vacation in Matagalpa to find a challenge that the community of Jicaro is all too familiar with. It had rained the last three days straight and the river was up so we couldn’t get back to our home in the village. We were told it might go down for a while if the rain stopped but that we should expect it to stay up for most of the rest of our stay. We needed a new game plan.

Louie, Katie, and Kristina are now staying in our home on the village side of the river along with our mason Sam. Our other mason, Chepe, is staying with Ian, Vince, Ryan and I on the road side of the river in a little tent city (see photo below). This way we have teams on both sides of the river and continue building on both sides even while the river is up. Eventually we will build our way back together!


A man on the road side of the river offered to let my group stay in his barn. When we went to investigate, however, his vicious dog took a chunk out of Ian’s leg. It bled badly but he was a trooper about it. The worst part was that now we needed to get him a rabies shot. So we spent the next four days running all over the country, being denied a vaccine by everyone we asked. Everyone had a different excuse for why we couldn’t have it: he doesn’t need it if it’s below the heart, the wound isn’t gaping enough to warrant it, it happened in a different municipality so it’s out of our jurisdiction, and on and on.

And while Ian and I were pleading for his life, the rest of the team was fighting for the life our bridge. After finishing our towers (see above photos) we resurveyed the site and were devastated to find out that although the village side anchor hole looked plenty deep, it actually needed to be 70 cm deeper. A full day of pounding away and a broken sledge hammer later, no progress had been made. The rock at the bottom of the hole was simply too hard to excavate by hand. I ran through the calculations and quickly found the bridge would not be structurally sound if we couldn’t deepen the excavation. Suddenly we went from being ahead of schedule to having no idea how we could build finish the bridge on time.

So our team was split up on either side of an impassable river, over which we could perhaps no longer build a bridge, while Ian was dying of rabies and we were all running low on money and hope.

And then yesterday the game changed again. One of our friends from the mayor’s office used a personal connection to get us the rabies vaccine. Ian isn’t going to die! Milosz hooked us up with a guy who can rent us a jackhammer that will hopefully allow us to complete the anchor excavation on time. Our frequent trips to different cities around the country allowed us to withdraw much more money to help buy bridge materials and food. We’re back on track and feeling fine! Thank you so much to everyone who has been thinking of us and praying for us. I could literally feel your presence as things took a turn for the better.

In other news, another unintended consequence of my frequent trips into town is that I have been consuming greater than or equal to two fresh fruit smoothies a day. We have had to fend off three spiders from inside our tents and bug nets, all of which had bodies as big as our palms. The river has gotten low enough that we can wade across up to you shoulders at times, but Louie tore his compression shorts so we get a free show every time he makes the trip. And did I mention none of us are going to die of rabies? Back to building bridges!


Comments 2

  1. Mary Craft

    crafty thoughts n prayers are with your team….. Stay safe and plz stay away from the dogs. I can envision a new movie being made from your adventure…. Something about “summer of 2013 Zoo to You Adventures”. Miss u Jo Jo

    I am sure that this journey will give great appreciation to USA comforts of home.

    Mom Craft

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