*Will update with more pictures later- the internet sucks here*
Merry Christmas. Yesterday morning I woke up to the sounds of the goat in the driveway of the home I am staying in. The goat was purchased for $100 USD on Thursday. This morning I awoke to the news that the goat has been killed. Somewhere out back they are cutting the goat up in preparation to cook it for Christmas dinner. I am not sure how I feel about an animal that I have previously seen alive.
Welcome to Haiti.
I arrived in Haiti Thursday morning into the fame Port-au-Prince airport. Crazy and hectic, while still beautiful. As I waited patiently for my bags, my swag was cool and relaxed like I did this a million times. I received my bags and left the crowded baggage terminal and step foot into. Waiting for me was the woman in charge of volunteers for EDV. She was a German woman, who currently lived in the UK named Rebecca. She held a sign with my name on it. When I approached her she was talking to another volunteer from another organization that was stranded. I grateful jumped into the tap-tap they had waiting for me and arrived at the house which would be my home until January 1st. She gave me the basic orientation and the tour of the house. I picked out where I wanted to sleep.
We went to the Grass Root United base (where I was originally supposed to stay) and toured their grounds. The volunteers there live in tents with no running water. Fun.
I got some money changed and went back to the compound. By then there were other volunteers there. I joined a man name Julio from Peru and his friend who was traveling with him from Indonesia to get food. Apparently they meet three weeks ago in Peru and he invited her to come to Haiti with them. Our lunch was chicken with rice and peas (a familiar menu).
After lunch we rode a tap-tap to an orphanage to drop off a water filtration system for them and have an art day with the kids.
When I arrived there were kids of all ages everywhere.
The kids where housed under a big tents with mattresses strewn about. On the other side of the tents were the classes that EDV had just constructed for them. While there I kicked myself for not learning French/Creole. The kids were great though, very happy. They were enthralled by my camera and the ability to see their image reflected on my screen. “Photo, Photo” many of them shouted at me. A tad bit demanding but I obliged. A couple knew some English and asked me my name. The good thing about kids is that a smile can go a long way to cross language boundaries.
Next to the orphanage was the former worship center. The roof of the dome collapsed during the earthquake. Rebecca told me the man in charge of the orphanage was also a respected Voodoo leader in the community. Because of his position in the religion the community provides the children with food and they are well-fed. I was bit annoyed with the way she spoke of Voodoo. She talked about demolishing the worship site in order to provide a better place for the kids to sleep. My question to her was: “So where would the people worship at?”
After we left the orphanage we went back to the compound. The cook made dinner- chicken with rice and peas, fried plantains and some sort of pink cooked salad that I didn’t eat. The food was good and filling. Oh by the way- there are a total of 10 people living on the lower floor of this house. They all wanted to watch a movie. I wanted to be alone. I took a shower hoping they would start the movie and forget about me. Instead they waited for me to finish shower to watch the movie “Sherlock Holmes” (NOT a romantic comedy). I sat with them for a while then after falling asleep on the couch I went to bed. I keep waking up to the sounds of partying, a church service and some kind of chanting in the dead of night. I have no idea what was going on in the streets of Haiti at 2 AM.
Everyone was very excited about Friday, we were going to the beach. Most of the volunteers had been there for a couple of weeks and needed a break. The EDV volunteers were joined by several local volunteers and EDV staff on the trip. We rode on a tap-tap for about an hour and half through downtown Port-au-Prince outside of the city to a private beach area. Mostly foreigners and wealthy Haitians frequented this place. Since I am not a fan of getting into large bodies of water, I spent the day listening to my music and reading Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat and Does your mama know? (spending special attention to the stories about Haitian woman. I enjoyed reading writing about/by Haitians while admiring the beauty of the Haitian coast. I kept pretty much to myself when everyone was playing soccer and other games. When all the EDV people were by the beach I went out to basketball court to talk to Evans (our translator) and Carlos. Evans couldn’t understand why I did not want to play sports with them. I tried to explain to him I was pretty and did not like sweating. After kicking it with him for about 30 min he told me he was surprised I was talking because I had been so quiet during the ride. I did not know how to explain to him I have nothing to say to the European/ White Americans that comprised the EDV volunteers. The ones who swear they know everything about Haiti and sometime speak about the country in a semi-condescending way. The ones who have been here for six months, but do not speak the language at all. While EDV is a better NGO than most- it still has that aire of the white privilege and the stink of white guilt circling around it. Eventually I joined Evans, Carlos and Chris (German) for a game on two on two. Surprisingly my basketball skills were on point that day. Evans and I won 10-0 (4 of those points were mine). Evans invited me to walk around the neighborhood of the beach with him and Carlos and Cousin. On the way back Evans I asked Evans to take me to church with him on Sunday. Evans had been asking about my boyfriend or lack of one- I explain to him I don’t have the time or patience for them. He asked me did I want to hang out with him after church, I’m assuming he meant hang out like a date or something. I said yes. Why not?
We left the beach and return to the compound for dinner. They all wanted to go to a Haitian club. I was toying with the idea of going, but I did not really want to be in a club with them- A whole bunch of Euros/ White Americans. They invited some other people from other NGO’s over to drink. From my bed I heard them discussing going to the club and leaving. When they returned I could tell they were angry and somebody had left them making them pay a crazy amount to get home. Some of the volunteers were lost and scared since the club was in a “bad” part of town. I could hear Kris talk about how the worse thing that could happen to a woman is to be raped, while a man has to worry about being killed. That you could get over rape but not murder. Someone mention that I was sleeping and they should move away from the window to the bar not to wake me. I was even more thankful that I did not join them. I am spending very little time talking to the EDV people.
The people I care to connect with are the local Haitians.Many who assume I speak Creole because I look Haitian. The ones who know I am from Fl, don’t understand why my Haitian friends in the U.S. never taught me Creole. Shame on them. Shame on me. Overall things are pretty good. Still getting use to this communal living. I never stayed this close to so many people. I will never understand how people without running water can smell better than Euros/Americans with running water.
Anyways- The weather is beautiful. I am in a country with beautiful black people. Have a Merry Christmas. Happy Birthday Baby Jesus.