Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Haiti Day 5

Jouer 5
Le 6 Janvier, 2009

Today started out the same as yesterday. We had quick devotions at 6:30 a.m., then on to the roof. Right away it was already a scorcher. We were practically dying of heat.
The second side of the roof went twice as fast as the first side because we knew what we were doing and we had a good system. We were able to finish half of the side by the time breakfast rolled around at 8 a.m. I must say, I could eat Haitian bread and butter and pineapple all day. I just absolutely love it! After breakfast, Jan braided my hair for me and we ran into some old Haitian friends of hers on the way to do so. She has me translate conversations with them as she did my hair and when she was done I asked them, “comment c’est?” (how is it) and they were all explaining “Oh! C’est jolie,” or “oh! C’est belle!” (pretty and beautiful) It was fun and I liked playing translator, but it was time for me to get back to the roof.
We did another two rows on the roof before we were right up to the edge and that was height-phobe-me just had to get down. Instead, I joined Jim, Adam, and Chelsea in the basement to see if they needed my help. They first set me to work with Marcelo and another translator filling in the brick columns against the wall with cement. It was dirty work, but it was fun and soon it switched so I was doing the same work with Adam.
As we were working, this one adorable kid wearing overalls picked up a broom and just swept the area for us. We rewarded him with a jolly rancher before going back to work. Soon enough, the kid brought back two friends who asked for candy. We didn’t give them any at first, but then once our wheel barrow was empty of cement, they stole it and brought it to the mixer for us. We couldn’t help but reward them, but this time we put our fingers to our lips and said “shh!” They copied, seeming to understand, and left. We went back to work. Then, about ten minutes later, we had about fifteen kids hanging around where we were working; all asking for ‘bonbons.’ Marcelo scared them away and they all left except for that first, ridiculously adorable, little boy in the overalls.
I paid him no mind and just went upstairs for water, passing the translator Ronny on the way and exchanging our usual smile. He and I have grown an understanding of each other since he and I spoke in French extensively on Sunday. He is our best translator, has worked for us before, is extremely loyal, and is probably the person I most respect out here.
Up stairs one worker, about seventeen years old, stopped me. I had seen him standing around occasionally watching when I talked with the little kids. “Tu es tres intelligente,” he said. I replied, “parce que je parle Francais?” His answer followed, “Ouais, tu es tres bonne a ca aussi!” That was our entire conversation, but it was still fun.
We took our lunch break around two to avoid the harshest part of the day. Sandwiches were just as amazing as always and the half liter of coke, just as refreshing. We then went to the Wozo (gated community) and swam for a bit to cool off. I had cement caked on my skin and had no idea if I’d ever get it off.
The break lasted until we decided to walk back at four. I heard my name everywhere from kids, it is as if the entire neighborhood knows me. The kids say it more than ‘you!’ (They say ‘you’ when they want your attention because they want something) It really is cool and I love just being able to say ‘bonjour’ to people I pass followed by the unexpected ‘ca va’ that just lights up their faces simply because I speak French. I just plain love it!
Anyways, when we got back, it was straight back to work. As we were shoveling sand in the cement maker our little overcalled friend (I learned his name is Odeal) picked a shovel up (twice his size) and tried to help. I got some cute pictures on Adam’s camera of them together.
That kid followed me everywhere and just did the most adorable things. He didn’t talk or say the annoying ‘you’ that had me beyond irked at this point of the trip. I fell just absolutely in love with the kid! He made me smile so much. It was fun even as we cemented the columns in the kitchen where it was beyond ridiculously hot. I was so worried about that kid getting hurt, but he was fine.
We worked right into the dark and, at around 6 p.m., we were done in the basement so I went upstairs. Odeal found me again, so I picked him up, cradled him, and hummed to him a little. He practically fell asleep right there as I watched the men finish the roof in the powered lighting.
Odeal woke up and pointed towards the basketball court saying “allez la.” I tried letting him go by himself, but he would not let me put him down and insisted that I go with him. He led me to four girls and three boys sat in the grass. I later found out that three of the girls were ages 17, 24, and 12. The Haitians always laugh when I say my age. I am not entirely sure why.
I started talking to the girls in French and they asked the usual; my name, age, dad’s name, mom’s name, number of siblings, etc. They then became more curious about my love life. They asked if I had a ‘petit ami’ and “tu es dans l’amour?” So I told them about Dan. (Not easy to do in French) I stole my camera back from Adam (He’d been holding onto it for me so I could always have it handy) and showed them pictures from new years and the picture I saved on there of Kyle and me, and explained to them what he does in Hinche. Then I showed them a picture of the Williams cousins that I also have saved, being sure to point out my brother and zoomed in on him. They all exclaimed that he was really good looking, really cute, etc. (Yes, Ian, even Haitian girls think you’re cute) I showed them pictures from snowboarding then they taught me a hand game (like those song games girls learn in the U.S. such as ‘say say oh play mate’) and that was it. It was like talking to girls in the U.S. I loved it and I liked feeling normal. (Minus the fact that they kept touching my white skin and shaved legs) I don’t mind it too much, but it gets tiring feeling like a parade every time we walk down the road, so feeling normal, not being asked for my clothes, and just watching little kids play was a great feeling.
Dinner came at 7:30 p.m. and we finally stopped our work. Solid rice, plantains, and french fries along with a little good conversation and the understanding smile exchange with Ronny made up our meal. I was tired and my neck hurt so much, but all of it was worth it. I took a shower, but I can guarantee there is still a suntan lotion like layer of cement on my skin. Oh well, I can be clean when I get home. I am just glad I am not sun burnt!
Marcelo wanted to practice his English and my French with me, but I couldn’t find him after dinner, so now I am just going to go to bed and dream, hopefully, good dreams. (I almost forgot to mention that the roof was scary today because the platform wood we stood on before removing was slippery from the rain) I am over half-way done with this trip and, if nothing else, today has only made me fall more in love with this place.
Jerry wanted to make sure I added in my journal his favorite line of mine from yesterday. “He looks 45, that’s really old…” which is not really what I said, he just didn’t let me finish! (I meant to add ‘for a Haitian, but instead Jerry took it as me calling him old)