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Friday, March 22, 2013

Part 6 of my Haitian experience



I feel better today. But I had a hard time getting to sleep. Breakfast was eggs and rolls, and I was glad to see something a little bit 'North American', but eggs are probably a valued commodity here.
The younger girls slept in, but we saved them the eggs which they appreciated, even though they don't normally eat a big breakfast.
Again we're not going back to our rubble house and it's disappointing. I really wanted to build a whole home, but for some reason we're being stalled on that. This morning we hopped into the back of the pickup and we headed northwest to other piles of rubble, beside houses demolished by the earthquake. That's where I saw my first cockroach. Several, actually, all scurrying around when I lifted up a rock. 
We loaded the dump truck at various sites along the roads near a water purification center, trying to stay in the shade. The broken cement along the roadway is so poorly made, it crumbles when we squeeze it.
We've also learned that nowadays, rubble homes are becoming popular, and there is actually a market for the rubble, so people hoard it and sell it. We have to be careful where we get it, so as not to steal it.
Naturally, I had to pee, and Junior asked a lady at a nearby house if I could use her facilities. She took me inside past a wash area that had a lumpy wet cement floor, through a dining area with the table and chairs through a bedroom that was very tidy and into a small bathroom that was spotless. No running water, but toilet paper and even space for a shower. The walls were cement gray, unpainted and it was spartan but neat and clean. 
Most buildings here are made of cement, even their ceilings, and that makes for a dangerous situation should another earthquake happen. Rubble homes have tin roofs and will only sway. These cement homes, built with those poorly made cement blocks, crumble easily in a tremor, but are cheap to build.
Allan has taken to eating unripe mangoes that hang from the trees, but they're a bit sour for me, despite me being hungry. When we returned for lunch, Faucher told us that Alex is coming from Port-au-Prince with wire and supplies, and hopefully a goat for Thursday night. He also promises that he'll go to the market tomorrow morning to get some food.
Lunch was fried chicken, salad, and a new bean dish. Meat is only available on Saturdays and Wednesdays at the market, but our cook has found some chicken for us today, so it made for a substantial meal that didn't require peanut butter for extra protein. As a result, I expect we will have a light supper. This practice of lighter meals and harder work I will try to embrace. There's no point in trying to immerse yourself in Haitian culture, while complaining about the lack of food.
We piled into vehicles, the pick up and the motorcycle/pickup. We drove to where we were before lunch, and when that was exhausted, we piled in to the dump truck with Sharon and Rhonda in the front with the rest in the back. Let me tell you, it's not easy for me, a 53-year-old woman, to climb into the back of a 5 ton dump truck. Nor is it pretty.
The next site, another home demolished by the earthquake, was filled with wasps. I was stung on the left ankle, but had that same anti-itch cream I had a run-in with to put on my sting. Across the street were several huge mango trees. 
It turned out that we wouldn't fill the dump truck again today because the driver was needed elsewhere. We were grateful because we were all sweltering, and it's hard to believe that half a world away, it's still snowing and cold. In fact, were so hot here, that after a shower, it takes a long time to dry because you're still sweating and the air is very humid.
I lay down for a nap until Alex returned and opened the safe so we could get some money. He did not get the supplies we needed. Another day, and we will return to our house. Faucher offered another tour of the kitchen for the ladies, explaining tonight's soup.
Chocolate soup. Yes, chocolate soup. The cook invented this recipe that blends bananas, evaporated milk, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, and grated chocolate. She adds hot water and then boils it. The chocolate is a big handmade block wrapped in banana leaves, and the vanilla is a large bottle of pure white vanilla with the slightly spicy scent. Faucher says he can get the some of each to take home. The coffee, called Rebo, is arabica coffee and grown here and very strong. Coffee is five dollars, a pack vanilla as four dollars a bottle, and chocolate is four dollars a log. 
It's not that expensive, but it's not cheap either. I'm surprised that things cost as much as they do. I made up a list and gave him numbers for the order from our groups. I asked Jackie to handle the money, because it's laughable to see me trying to count bills.
We went onto the roof for our devotional and discussed why we came and what Bible verses inspire us. There were a lot of different reasons, all fascinating, from doing Jesus' work to enjoying Haitian culture to fulfilling a lifelong dream.
We walked down the street quite a ways to a fried chicken place afterwards.  For five dollars US, we received half of the small chicken picklies, (which is a spicy coleslaw) and some fried plantain. I was full from the chocolate soup, as it was quite rich, but went for the experience, and I ate half of my meal, saving the other half for breakfast. 
The restaurant was really just an unpainted room with a brazier, the counter and several children's chairs. A girl and her mother are cutting and pressing plantain into patties using spices to coat them. Beer was offered in those little brown stubby bottles. We brought back Sharon's meal as she was too tired to walk.
My legs were tired, too. I washed them and put on icy gel. They ached, making it hard for me to sleep. I can see the value of an afternoon nap and very little work in the heat.

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