[September 10, 2020] Laid out before us was a bounty of food and drinks, all in honor of our visit to Honduras. Our advanced party had been sent to determine the needs of our local military counterparts in their war against illegal (and very dangerous) drugs coming across their border from Nicaragua. Our soldiers were going to eat, drink, and enjoy the feast – like it or not.
It was not unusual for our military units to be surprised by such an outpouring of hospitality. Such generosity is typical in most countries we visit, especially in South America, the Middle & Near East, and parts of Africa. We do the same for visiting military personnel from other countries. The problem for most of us is that the food will play High School biology with our internal digestive systems, and we are the experimental frog.
We know in advance this will be the case, and anyone properly prepared will bring broadband antibiotics, diarrhea medicine, and nausea tablets. Sometimes you have to play cards with those around you. If I don’t like their food, these people should never know. Surprisingly, the spiciest foods in my experience are from Korea. The Middle East food occasionally has sufficient contamination to test any American’s stomach capability.
There is little need to discuss the results of the food from Honduras. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed their treat. And I had no problem digesting it. Our medical doctor in attendance (yes, we do bring them) said these foods have so little negative effect on me is “due to you eating everything all over the world.” The rest of the advanced party was not so lucky. For two days, I was the only one able to engage with our hosts.
Eating in “the field” brought another level of interest to the group with which I was traveling. Our visit to the border between Honduras and Nicaragua was to see firsthand the widespread flow of illegal drugs over the border. I was set up with one of their light Infantry Battalions that had been on duty there for nearly six months (the unit name and exact dates are classified). Unit soldiers were experienced, motivated, and good at what they did.
The first night I was there, we participated in an unusual ceremony of eating live scorpions. The trick is to tear off the stinger before ingesting the insect. And I thought eating live octopus in South Korea was different. I’ll eat anything, but uncooked bugs approach even my limit. We did have fun and caught two Nicaragua soldiers smuggling drugs. That made the trip all worthwhile.
There are times as a leader when participating in local traditions is necessary to be accepted. We’ve all done it. And we often have initial thoughts are that we will not like it. Sometimes it can seem unusual, but sometimes you just have to play cards … like it or not.