Friday, December 2, 2011

Project Hope in Haiti, Part IV

To read more about this little series of posts, and about Gardening Mom and Sister Swimmer's journey to Haiti, go HERE, see part II HERE, and see part III HERE.

Saturday, July 23
Last night I had a sleepless night and started getting anxious and homesick. Not sure if part of it might have been the day full of disturbing images of downtown Les Cayes and also hearing that a storm might be coming in and worried that might affect our flight out of Les Cayes or worse our flight out of Port au Prince. Finally went to sleep but woke up still anxious so took a xanex thoughtfully supplied for my flight fears but which I actually never needed for the flights so figured it would get me over the hump of the paralyzing fear that was gripping me still in the morning.

Today was our day to go to Port Salud, which we were told was a beautiful beach about 40 minutes away. P had pointed to the hills in the distance and told us that Port Salud was on the other side of the hill. I think the fear of what I had expected to be a long winding drive was contributing to my angst. Breakfast was, I think, french toast but not sure if I am mixing days up. Mid morning we headed out for Port Salud, J, one of the former orphans now working for the quad, drove, and the med students joined the four of us. The drive was very pretty, the road a bit windy but not scary, and as we got higher we could see glimpses of the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. I sat in front and snapped pictures through the windshield, although it was hard to focus in and snap before we had already passed the subject of the photo. Sitting in front was a treat as not only did it give me a better vantage point for photos but also positioned me strategically for the best flow of the car A/C.

We arrived at Port Salud, a pretty beach with none of the trash that we had seen at the others.

We found a table near a beachside open air restaurant and ordered some sodas, then ordered food which J told us would take awhile so that we would have time to swim before the food arrived.

I sat with J and our bags while the others went to the water.

SS and A

Later I checked out the water, which was a beautiful light blue and warm. A few strolling vendors approached us at the table and although there was not much of interest, I did pick up a pretty basket which will have to serve as my carryon personal item on the way home as I do not believe it will quite fit in my bag as it is very round.

Lunch took about two hours to arrive, not entirely sure why as there we not that many people there nor was the food complex. SS and A ordered chicken in sauce, K originally ordered pork but they were out so she went with the chicken, and J ordered fish in sauce. I originally ordered conch in sauce but they were out of that too so then I ordered lobster which was just a couple of dollars more than the chicken. They wre also out of goat which was also on the menu. While we were waiting for the food a guy was walking around with a pot and a bottle of hot sauce and when I asked J what it was he said it was conch and in answer to my question said it was safe to eat, so I bought some, which came in a small dixie cup douse in the hot sauce and had the texture and taste similar to squid.

The meals arrived had a pile of whatever the protein was in the middle, surrounded by fried slices of plantain, and doused in a butter type sauce if it was sauce or just grilled if it was roasted.

I tasted everyone's and was pleased with my lobster. Most of us did another water trip and then it was time to head back. 

We stopped for mangos on the way back and I kept my eyes open for bananas, which I have seen on the heads of women passing by on the roads but not yet had anyplace that we could purchase (other than the open air market yesterday and I was purchasing nothing there). When we arrived back at the quad dinner was almost ready although most of us were still full from lunch. Dinner was pizza, home made, a few different kinds but somewhat different than the combos at Pizza Hut. There was bacon, green pepper and tomato, anchovy and tomato and hot dogs and something else.

As the sun was setting tonight the sky was a bit ominous and the air is thick, so I am hoping that any approaching storm hits tonight and is well past the area by tomorrow night and Monday morning when we are to leave. The Internet is down tonight, not sure whether it is a temporary thing, or due to a storm, or what, so not sure if this email will go through. Two more nights and one more day not counting our travel day and I am ready to leave.

Tomorrow is Sunday mass, which I understand is a full community event, so should be interesting, but probably culturally insensitive to use as photo op and my cultural sensitivity monitor will certainly keep me from crossing the line on that one.

Sunday, July 24
Sunday, our last full day in Haiti, tomorrow is a full day of travel. Slept a bit later this morning, cold cereal for breakfast, but I followed one of the med students out to the area where they make all for food for the orphan village and had a bowl of rice instead, brown rice with small beans and I think carrots.

Then we had Sunday mass, but I guess it was a communion service which is not as long as mass but quite long enough. It was held in this big building on the Espwa grounds that looks kind of like a blimp hanger, and there are pews in it and they move some of the things from the small chapel in the quad into the building. Most of the prayer and the seem on was done or led by P, who I discover is a deacon as well as an engineer. Father M usually leads the service, but he is out of the country now, actually in San Diego of all places, so we did not get to meet him. There is also a Haitian deacon that assists and when P gave the sermon he had one of the older boys who is conversant in English translate for him, and it was kind of funny in parts, as P would use an expression that was not quite translatable and the boy would look at P puzzled instead of translating and P would need to phrase it differently.

There was a choir, about 16 half boys and half girls, and the girls in particular were in their Sunday best, and the choir was pretty good. There was also the communion, and it got quite warm in there by the time it was over. The attendance was a bit down I think as the skies opened up with a downpour about 20 minutes before it started and that may have kept some people away. All of the kids from the orphanage were there and the house mothers were patrolling to keep them in line.

One thing I have noticed is that the Haitians, at least the rural village people that we see the most, keep fastidiously clean, and they are always doing laundry in three different tubs, two of which are obviously wash and rinse but I am not sure about the third. I am amazed at how white they maintain their whites. There are these succulent plants all around that are used as hedges and also used to lay clothes out to dry. At church today there was a little girl in the row in front if us, maybe three years old, not sure if she was from the orphanage or from the village, but I am guessing the latter, and she has a cute blue and white frilly dress on and the bows in her hair and on her dress were so white they were almost glowing.

After church we played some cards and then had lunch, which was spaghetti - not Haitian spaghetti like we had had before but American spaghetti with meatballs. We also had chocolate cake which is unusual, as desserts are usually not served although P puts out chips about an hour before dinner each evening and we usually have mangos and have had pineapple the last couple of days.

I am really wanting to get home and spent time in my room reading and trying to will the time to go faster. SS, S, K, and the med students worked for about 2 hours filling water balloons, then we loaded them up in several coolers and tubs and lugged them over to the orphanage village where they were a big hit but were spent within 10 minutes, and the boys really seemed to quite enjoy slamming us with them.

K and I left after that but SS and A stayed and played some singing and clapping games with the girls. J asked if I wanted to drive into town with him but I really had no desire to go back there. At one pint in the afternoon, a plane flew over and P said that was our plane home for tomorrow.

Dinner was pumpkin soup, which we had our first day and I guess is the regular Sunday meal. After one of the boys that works in the house sang some songs for us, then we all packed. The med students are also leaving tomorrow and we exchanged emails and added one another as friends on Facebook, then talked for awhile about the challenges of our trip here and hoping the return will go smooth.

I know that I will breathe a sigh of relief when we touch down in Miami and are back in the U S.

Stay tuned for Part V when I will share Gardening Mom and Sister Swimmer's reflections from the trip, and how their charitable work inspired me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing pictures. My illustrator went to there and ended up with malaria- it was awful. But she said the experience was amazing and she'd still go back! Stopping in to follow and say hi from today's hop Hope you can visit soon and return the favor :)

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