Explosive First Impressions

Megyn Rodriguez is a Returned Community Economic Development (CED) volunteer who served in a pueblo in Atlántico, Colombia


It is said over and over during training the importance of integration and making good impressions. After all, we are representing our country. A volunteer is most aware of this concept during their first months at site, when connections are still being made.

A month into service, I had finally gotten the opportunity to meet a well-known community leader, and he graciously invited me to his home to discuss their current projects. After much discussion, several hours had passed and I was getting a good feeling that there could be some collaboration potential. True to Colombian hospitality, he and his wife invited me to eat lunch with them, a typical bowl of sancocho de gallina and a plate of white rice. We continued to discuss projects after lunch but that is when things began to go south.

I began to sense there was something terrible brewing. From within, I felt the horrible cramping of unhappy intestines. The leader kept talking, I tried to concentrate on his words, but my mind began to race. I’m a mile down a steep hill from my house. Even if I excused myself now, I probably wouldn’t make it in time. I heard gurgling from body parts that I didn’t even know could gurgle. Beads of sweat dripped down my face as my mind flashed back to the infamous training sessions from Dr. Jose and Charo. Something, something, diarrhea what was it?

I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I asked to use the restroom, cutting off the community leader mid-sentence . Confused, he says “sure, it’s in the backyard” aka outhouse with no running water. They used a bucket of water to flush down…well you know…so I was going to be shit out of luck in a minute, pun very much intended, because I hadn’t used a bucket flush yet. I had only one thing on my mind though: releasing the lunch demon from within, followed by holy water. Then, I would deal with the toilet.

It was explosive to say the least. My body betrayed me. I hadn’t had a stomach issue since training and yet here I was at a stranger’s house, bucket in hand, trying to figure this out. I make a small prayer and dump the bucket in. It fills up but does not drain. I think to myself Well, F**k.

I had to muster up all the courage left in me to ask his wife for help. Apparently there was a tool or a mental rod that they used to, uh, push things along. She, without any pena, got all up in there to fix the problem while I, full of pena, died inside. I couldn’t ever really look her in the eyes after that. My good relations with the community leader went to s**t…literally.

Failures come in all shapes, sizes and apparently different shades of color, too. One can never predict when the next stomach issue will arise in service but as Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

For more writings by me please visit my personal site at afailuresguidetotryinganyway.wordpress.com

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