First and foremost, for anyone waiting on an email from Karen, you’re going to have to wait a bit more. The internet doesn’t work on her computer and it’s driving her crazy. Crazy in a fun, tolerable way, but crazy nonetheless. All her ‘stuff’ is on her computer, so while she can use mine and Liette’s computer, it doesn’t help for file recall for her. OK, back to blog business….
Yesterday (Thursday) morning began the same as today, with an early run. This being my second time down, if I were to run during the day I could probably do it alone. I hate the heat and loathe the hot sun down here, so a daytime run simply isn’t an option for me. As with last trip, I hired Richard, the HATS Head of Security, to trail me on a moto before the sun came up. This gave me the advantage of running at the coolest point of the day, and catching the gorgeous Haitan sunrise. While you get plenty of steps in volunteering at HATS, cardio is limited to body work, since going off compound solo is a no-no for first timers, and extreme caution for return visitors. And I’m not taking any chances in the dark.
|Haitian Sky At Sunrise|
The run started great. Last time I ran here was along the canal….and I fell in…. sort of. Richard was tailing me lighting the path with his moto. I was running intervals (altering paces) which made me a terrible client for my security detail, and keeping up was a challenge for him at times. Dumb move on my part, because while looking down to switch songs on my phone, I found that the path had been eaten in by about 4’ and I fell right into a hole that I probably would have seen if I had not been playing everyones favorite Haitian game “Can Blanca Lose His Security Detail?”. And I definitely would have seen if I wasn’t texting and running. This is why Haiti’s national anthem is “Put Down Your Phone And Just Run Dummy”. Ok, that’s not the anthem…. yet.
Back to this morning’s run. I’d gotten up a little late for it and decided to skip the bathroom because I didn’t want to keep the driver and Richard waiting. The run started out great. Cool crisp morning air, plenty of inquisitive Haitian faces slightly responsive to my poor French version of good morning “Bahn Jerr Missy Year”. Anyway, 20 minutes in, body says “find a Starbucks, pretty darn soon”. My response “shaddup body, mind over matter, you lose.”. 3 minutes later, body says “Oh really??? Haha, you gonna lose, poor-planning-guy”. So I stop the moto and try to explain my dilemma. Richard and the driver nod their head in understanding. I ask if it would be OK with Richard to walk while I return with the driver, and then driver doubles back. Richard shakes his head yes. I step toward the moto, and no one moves. They didn’t understand a word I said. I literally said “I’m SOL here guys, eh?”, and they shook their head “yes”, of course. Awesome. 5 minutes later I stopped the moto and with a little more effect, reviewed the situation. The driver said “Ah, I understand you” and then explains to Richard. He hops off, I hop on, and we go home. Mind won that round body…. Sorta. (Richard hopped another moto back)
Karen had asked me to hang some Christmas lights, which I was happy to do. At home this takes 20 minutes. Here? Most of the day. That’s because the lights from last year had been chewed through by some kind something you don’t want spooning you at night (thankfully Liette had brought some more). And the extension cords from last year had mysteriously vanished. There’s not a lot of places they could have gone on the compound, so someone likely walked out with them. Sad but true, and a sobering reminder that there are very few completely trustworthy people in Haiti. When you’re born in a desperate country in a desperate situation, you do what you have to if you’re going to survive. And if that means stealing some supplies from an orphanage, so be it. Liette had kind of warned me about this before the first trip, saying something about Haiti being a great place, with wonderful people, but the world they came into doesn’t have a lot of room for the same kind of values that the first world offers.
So a few hours later, Karen, Richard and I went to St. Marc to pickup supplies, including extension cords, some groceries, and a replacement cell phone (the latter is a whole other kinds of nuts in this place). Karen asked me to sit in the back passenger seat of the cab so Richard could sit up front, because having a Haitian in the car minimized the likelihood of being messed with. When we got there to St. Marc it was chaos, as always. Streets were loaded with people, and as we pulled up, four beggars descended on the car for handouts. Karen shoed them away. While she’s extremely empathetic of people in tough situations, she has little time for people not interested in working for income. She shoed them away and in we went.. Karen got a Snickers bar and a Ragaman drink for Richard. I don’t drink soda, but decided to give this Haitan delight a try. I explained the taste to Karen on the way home as this “If you took out the best parts of Coca Cola and a sweet syrupy drink, and the medium good parts out as well, what you’d have remaining is this Ragaman drink. It was terrible. We returned home from the ride, and an hour or 2 later, the lights were up.
Oh, and we ran over (it was already dead) a goat that had wandered into the road and been hit by someone else. So, check that off my bucket list?
Today presented some interesting activities. I got up for another run, this one going much smoother. I planned ahead in case I needed to cut the 30 min run short, and instead of doing a 15 minute out and back, I went 7-10 minutes in one direction on the road, came back, and did the same in the other direction (twice actually, nailed my goal). After breakfast I fixed a few of the DIY drums (wood box frames wrapped with packing tape on both sides). From there it was off to do some more of the timoun (children’s) sponsorship forms again, and the project is nearing completion. Final activity of the morning… I met a child I sponsor. His name is Myckelly Jérôme, and he’s 5 years old. Very shy little boy, and it was a privilege to meet him. My Uncle Leo Krupp was a wonderful man, and when passed away, he left the nieces and nephews a part of his estate. I sent mine to HATS, and the sponsorship began. I think Unk would get a kick out of what I’ve done with his gift.
|Gigi Playing Slide Simon|
|Myckelly and Me – Haitans Don’t Smile For Pix, Nor Will I|
This afternoon there was a MAJOR futbol game at the school. The intramural championships were played between the green and blue teams. There were 200 or so kids watching the game, and it was hot as all get out. The green team won by a goal. Liette awarded the winners with medals, and all of the finalists received a hat and a shirt. And dinner. The last part struck me as odd, and maybe a little sad. All of the kids at the school get a meal during the day. For most of those kids, that meal is the only meal of their day that they know for sure will be coming, and will be fulfilling. So the notion that this second meal (chicken, rice, beans, sauce, and a soda) for the finalists was an award struck me as a stark contrast to the first world, where food for children is never an award. To the contrary, it’s almost an assumption, even in poorer neighborhoods. The boys devoured the food, of course, but it was an impression that will stick with me for a long time.
We came back to the compound and I went upstairs to study. And by “study”, I mean “fall asleep with school book near me”. I’ve done a lot of this sort of studying lately.
I pass the blog baton back to Heather tomorrow, where the readership will likely find her brevity quite refreshing.
Ciao for now peepo.