In the Summer of 2010 I was one of many lucky people who had the opportunity to take a short trip to Haiti. I fell almost instantly in love and just can't keep myself away. I've spent about 11 months in Haiti since the first time I went two and a half years ago and my time there isn't over. I'm exploring my options on where to take my life from here but it WILL include Haiti in one form or another. This is where I record stories and thoughts about my experiences.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

pima pike

Peter just sat up in bed and talked in his sleep but in English. He hardly ever speaks English during the day but he just sat up and said "the princess is in the castle." Ha ha. Also, a few nights ago he seemed to be having a bad dream and muttered something about "ecole" or "school" in English. Uh oh, my student is having nightmares about school!

Anyway, today I made the piklise (I think that's how you spell it..) for lunch and I had to cut these spicy peppers that they have here. I washed my hands and the Haitians told me that I need to rub my hands in my/their hair to get rid of the spice on my hands. She also told me I couldn't touch the babies for a while. That would have been good to know beforehand because I am the one who is supposed to take care of them! I wish she would have warned me better before I touched the peppers because about 15 minutes after I washed my hands they started burning like H-E double hockey sticks. I thought my hands were going to fall off it hurt so bad. The pain just escalated for the next 3 hours it was awful!! She felt bad and through her caring tears of laughter she made me soak my hands in sugar water and poured ice water over my hands. It helped a little but not enough. 10 hours later and my hands are still burning a little. But I was able to bathe the babies and touch them after 5 o'clock. Good thing because boy were they cranky tonight. I put them to bed an hour before they usually go to sleep. That was good I think. We'll see how they sleep tonight..

This afternoon I got to do the girls hair. I braided two of the girl's hair last night and I did one today. I can't believe they let me! And tomorrow is church no less! I feel honored that they went out in public with their hair done by me. Paulette told me I need some Haitian baby girls because I can braid hair so well. Yay.

I got to visit Leogane from Wednesday to Thursday and it was wonderful! Three men from the U.S. were getting picked up at the airport by my friend on Wednesday and I caught a ride with them to Leogane. I got to visit my friend's family who live in the town that I'm staying in so I'm excited to know some people here. He has three children that want to learn English and I am going to try and go over to their house once a week to give them some lessons. I'm especially excited because it will be a wonderful break to get away for a little bit every week. They also have coconut trees with delicious coconuts that I got to try... I'm hoping they'll pay me in a coconut every week.

My trip to Leogane was short but sweet. I love those girls with my whole heart and I miss them every second I'm away. I wish I had the opportunity to go see them more. They're wonderful people. Since I went during the week I got to see them doing school in their new building on the orphanage grounds. I took some video's which will be cool to have. I spent my time in Leogane just visiting with the girls and other people I know there. I also planned to eat some food from my friend Miglise who has a food stand in Leogane. I took a taptap there with my friend Junior. Last time I went to visit her, her daughter was there instead and said that she was at home sick with arthritis. I wasn't worried and hopped she'd be back when I visited next time. However, when I arrived at her spot this day, all of her things were cleared out. I asked the people sitting around where she was and they told me she died. I was not expecting that at all. I cried in front of all the people standing around. I tried not to, especially because everyone was already looking at me but I couldn't help it. I loved that woman. I will miss her.

Another sad thing also happened on our way to the orphanage on Wednesday. I was in the car with the three American men and we were almost to Leogane when we hit traffic that was not moving at all. We waited for a while and I just knew it was an accident. After waiting for a while the driver decided to pull around all the cars to check it out. It was an accident. It was the second fatal accident that I've seen in Haiti. As we pulled up, our headlights shined on a naked, dead woman laying in the street. A car must have hit her. There were hundreds of people standing around watching and walking over her body to get passed. We sat there for 40 minutes before the UN and the police showed up. I was very nervous that a riot would break out. Whenever there is that many people waiting for a road to open up there's bound to be tension. When the UN and police showed up the tension increased fast and they started beating people with the butts of their guns. Luckily, they had moved the woman's body as well as the blockade that they had made so we were able to zip around and get out before things got worse.

Looking back, I feel like the whole situation was surreal. That would never happen in the United States. Americans handle things so differently. But unexpected death is so commonplace for people in Haiti. They seem immune to being sad or scared about death. Adults and children the age of five were stepping over this woman's lifeless body to get passed while I was in the car with tears welling up in my eyes. In some aspects, I think that death shouldn't be so scary to me. Death happens to everyone at some point. But I think that that being sad or scared is OK especially in unexpected situations like this one. It just seemed so insensitive to me that people were gawking at her naked body laying in the road. I wanted to cover her up or take her away from all the peering eyes. Most of the people standing around, including myself, had no idea who this woman was. It felt that we had no right to be looking at her in such a vulnerable position. I thought about her family and what they would have done had they been there. How were they going to find out? Would any one know who her family even was? Does she have children? Does she even have a family? I think these are questions I think of because I'm not used to death. People in Haiti almost have to be used to it. Life here is hard and they know it. When I found out about the cook Miglise dying, I told a Haitian friend about it. She responded that death is coming for all of us and that I need to not be sad. How can you let yourself be so sad every time a person dies in Haiti? Especially when it's someone you don't know. People here have seen so much hurt and death, especially since the earthquake. It could be a defense mechanism to be so emotionally tough. Haitian people are amazingly strong.

Today I watched how Sue and the Haitian worker Paulette handled a crying child and their approaches were so different. Four year old Sheelanda was crying because she bumped her head and Paulette put her in the chair and said "eat your food!" and started to spoon it into Sheelanda's mouth. Sue walked in, saw the crying child, picked her up and hugged her and talked about where she was hurt and what happened. I think both of them were annoyed at the other's response to the situation. The difference between their reactions made me think about the affect of their different cultures on their behavior. I know that both women want what's best for the child. I think that Sue comes from a place where being tender and kind to a child is important. Paulette comes from a place where being strong and tough is important for survival. I think that a lot of times American's come here and are taken aback at how children are treated here. I am guilty of having thought that kids are treated in a cruel way sometimes. But I wonder if it's just my view of things that makes me think that. Up until this point I had never thought about how important being tough is to survival here and how that connects to child rearing. Life is not easy for anyone in Haiti. Perhaps adults treat the kids this way because they know that toughness is so critical.

I feel like I am being tested a lot here. I am having a really hard time being patient with the kids and loving them at all times. It seems that there's always something wrong with my body whether it be infected bug bites or a sick tummy. I am exhausted from feeding babies at night and being with kids all day long. It's hard but I think I'm really growing stronger and learning a lot about myself. When I start to have a pitty party for myself I look around and realize that my life is so good and easy compared to the people around me. I live in a beautiful house and I get food three times a day. Life isn't like it was when I was in the states but I don't expect it to be. I'm happy to be here and I think God is using it to teach me how to be a better person. I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. ...but isn't the Pikliz about the best thing EVER?!?