The Philosophical Writings of Doc PJ

Life Is A Trip

by doc pj

I'm sitting in Cyberiada, an internet cafe in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on my way to do more medical clinics along the Rio Patuca. It ain't Mtn. Java, but it's pretty cool.

I'm experiencing that exquisite combination of the excitement and anticipation of another adventure and missing the comforts and familiarity of home.

That is part of what makes travel attractive to me. It stretches the boundaries of what I know. There is this small fraction of all that is knowable that I know I know, like my name, certain areas of medicine, meditation, and how to play the bass a little.

There is another portion of all that is knowable that I know I don't know, like the distance to Pluto, the capital of Bolivia, and how to play the bass well.

And the largest portion of what is knowable is what I don't know that I don't know. That is where the magic is. That wonderful "ah-ha!" of learning something I didn't even know I could know.

I have spent the last two days purchasing medicines and arranging logistics of transportation, communication, food, boatmen, etc. Actually, a lot had already been done for me by Byron "el Rey" Swezy, the King of Logistics back in Frisco through a friend of his, Hauke Hoops here in Honduras. Hauke is a remarkable German biologist who came to Honduras originally about 10 years ago with a project researching the possibility to grow grasshoppers as a food source. He was able to find lots of grasshoppers, but couldn't find any one that would eat them. In the process, he explored an area of the jungle and is now almost single handedly preserving it as the Patuca National Bioreserve.

Robin Albert, Joe Kusumoto and Kate Fitzpatrick join me tomorrow. They don't know this themselves yet, but within 24 hours of their plane touching down we will be in a 50-foot dug out canoe heading towards a stretch of the Patuca River called Puerto de Inferno (Door of Hell - please don't send this to my mother until after I get back). I'm told that since Hurricane Mitch rained 7 feet in 7 days and sent a 40-foot wall of water down the Rio Patuca valley two years ago, this section of river has changed and is less dangerous, but it still sounds a little sketchy.

Assuming we survive this, we plan to set up medical clinics in small villages along the river, digging pit latrines and lancing boils as we go. It may not be glamorous, but it's important work. More lives have been saved with safe drinking water and latrines than with MRIs and antibiotics. I'll be back in time to vote for Ralph Nader and Amendment 20, decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana.

The more I take trips like this the more I realize everyone, including myself, has the same universal fears, hopes, doubts and commitments, wherever we are or travel. Whether we are preparing for a trip, recovering from a trip, or just hanging out at home, in a way we're always tripping. If we're really living our lives fully we are always stretching into that area of the unknown, peeking into the corners of our lives we're less comfortable with to see what is there. Just maybe we'll learn something we didn't even know we could know.

Life is a trip!
Have a great one,
doc pj

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"doc pj" Perrinjaquet, MD, MPH is the Medical Director of High Country Health Care-Breckenridge. He encourages your comments and criticisms. Please contact him at PO Box 1546, Breckenridge, CO 80424; phone (970) 547-9200; FAX (970) 547-4585 or e-mail

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