Saturday, January 3, 2009

Haiti Day 2

Jouer 2

Le 3 Janvier, 2009

I ended up sleeping rather well last night after waking up and coughing up some huge blood clot the size of a golf ball. It also took some courage to get out of the tent and walk to the other end of the site to use the restroom, but eventually I had no other choice. I woke up around 7:45 a.m. to an already noticeable amount of humidity. (It was ironic because I’d spent the entire night shivering in the cold) We ate our breakfast of delicious bread, oatmeal, and some papaya. We then did our daily devotions before setting out to work. Annie, Adam, Daniel, and I started out by clearing out the storage trailer and getting the large beams out so we could later build shelves. The heat was apparent, but durable. We built the shelves, found out they wouldn’t work, and unbuilt them. Tim made the comment that we’re the Army because we put everything up then tore it down.

After that task was complete, we set to work pilling huge concrete cement bricks onto a platform so the fork lift could bring them down the hill where a second group would unload them. I had two Haitians, Emmanuel and Marcelo, working with me. They were both translators for our group and were excited when they found out I speak French. They had a fun time speaking both English and French with me. It was difficult at first, trying to understand what they were asking me, but I caught on and we had a good conversation as we broke our backs packing blocks. We took a lunch break of hot dog sandwiches (veggie me had bread with ketchup and mustard) then it was back out to loading bricks. It was just me and Chelsea for the last few loads. A group of young boys were watching us and kept asking questions- giving me time to practice my French. Then 3 girls joined them and stood by and watched us work. It almost made me feel like some sort of a side show. They asked us for our names and continued to watch.

After all the bricks were loaded, Chelsea and I went down and helped make cement. To do so, you put in twelve shovels full of sand, three of white sand, and half a bag of cement. Mix those together like dry ingredients when baking and then add a ton of water and mix that in. In between making loads, we sifted sand into a wheel barrow to get the rocks out for making cement. The three girls came to watch and, when they figured out I spoke French, it was question after question in French. Conversing quickly became easier for me. They just wouldn’t stop and constantly speaking in French was quickly exhausting me. In between mixing cement loads in wheel barrows, they’d call me over to speak. Eventually, like every other child in the area, they were asking for various articles of clothing, or for a ‘cadeau’ (gift). I kept trying to tell them I needed my clothes, but they could have my clothes when I left. At one point they asked me for my number and I had to explain that, because of international costs, I couldn’t. They weren’t too happy about that, but they made me promise not to forget them and called me their ‘friend like a sister.’ I felt honored. J

“I love working constantly and feeling like I’m doing something with my life.”

Some other Haitians heard me speaking French and were amused enough to come over just to listen, asking the girls in disbelief if I spoke French. It didn’t take long before I had a whole bunch of groupies. Emmanuel was amused by my groupies and my attempts to communicate with them. Apparently having a white person communicate with them was a huge deal. Emmanuel handed me his phone at one point and told me to speak French. Unfortunately, the other end was too quiet in comparison to the noise around me.

The day’s work continued in the scorching sun. Adam and I laid out then folded up some tarps with the help of about six very small, but eager Haitian children. I’m at an extreme advantage by speaking French because I can tell the kids to move or to give something back or to stop doing something. It’s cute, they never listen when you tell them you’re tired and they instead want to climb all over you. I suppose that’s similar with American children though. We wrapped up the night with some of the guys playing futbol (soccer) with the kids while others discussed what we’d be doing tomorrow. Dinner was extremely filling; consisting of rice and beans with some red sauce, French fries, and lettuce with the ranch dressing Daniel brought.

Annie and I hit the showers after dinner. I already miss warm showers, I can tell you that. One shower (we have four) consists of one stream of water that is just cold enough to take your breath away. The group then walked over to a nearby gated community where all the men jumped in the pool. (the community acts as a motel most of the time) It is where the women usually stay and will be staying next week. It looks like some fancy place in Florida, it’s gorgeous!

Mike then drove us all back and we prepared for bed. Tomorrow is Sunday- meaning church and exploration because the Haitians don’t like it when we work on Sunday. I’m still madly in love with this place and I love working constantly and feeling like I’m doing something with my life. Good luck to anyone who wants to tear me away.