Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Traffic, Tourism and Turkeys

Thursday, April 26th 2012

 I started today thinking it would be another taxing day for the team. Mother Teresa's Hospital was on the agenda. Walking into Mother Teresa's changes one's life for eternity. It's a hospital that specializes in malnourished children.

However, once we got to the hospital, we learned that they weren't allowing visitors today. The regular staff of nuns had the day off and the covering staff wasn't qualified to allow us in. Luckily, we are becoming accustomed to wrenches being thrown in our plans. We quickly decided today would be a rest/tour day and we would knock out both a clinic in Port Au Prince AND then go to Mother Teresa's from 3-5. Tomorrow is gonna be a killer.

We went into downtown Port Au Prince where the earthquake was the most damaging. I was actually very refreshed to see the progress that has been made since I was last in Haiti 15 months ago. The rubble in the streets was greatly decreased, the tent city across from the broken Capital was obsolete and I saw signs of new construction.

I specifically remember this house by the souvenir markets. It was a yellow house with one entire wall was missing. Even with the missing wall, you could see a family in there, attempting to cook lunch. It's one of those memories you just don't forget. But today, the building was not only completely demolished, but the groundwork was started for a new building. I liked seeing that. There was also a entire section of the street blocked off that was filled with umbrellas indicating market activity. It looked bustling and promising.

Televisions as shingles?

I love the chaos of the souvenir shops. We are usually spotted a mile away and the merchants are very eager to show us their goods. Within in a matter of minutes, we were surrounded by more jewelry, paintings and wood workings than we could fit on the bus. It's always fun to browse and I always end up wishing I brought more money to spend on the goods.I always have to buy something for the boys at the markets. I found some pretty cool maracas to compliment the Haitian drum they have at home. Only a few more days to I get to see them! Thinking of the boys is bittersweet though; as I can't think of my boys without thinking of Cousonal from yesterday.

Remember on Saturday when I said I don't recall driving by any tent cities? I'd like to retract that statement. We drove by quite the tent city today. It had a market in front of the shantys, 6 foot high piles of rotting food and was at least a mile long. This is one of those moments when I wish I could bring the smells of Haiti to the Internet. Just imagine, smoke, spoiled food and sweat all rolled up into one glorious ball. You can't describe it, but once you smell it, it's forever burned into your nostrils. Ugh.

Believe it or not, some people call this place home. 

It was entertaining to watch the activities occurring in this civilization. My eyes kept jumping from transactions being completed to kids playing with sheet metal to so much more. However, it did not look like a great place to be. Pastor Ron even said that it was so unsafe, he would not enter it. I asked if we were in Cite Soleil again. He replied, "No, but that it's very close. We spent what seemed like an eternity in traffic; therefor an eternity in stifling heat. I think there are few things more suffocating than sitting in an old diesel bus surrounded by a gazillion other diesel vehicles in 80% humidity. But hey, we were explaining Haiti, getting to be a fly on the wall in everyday Haiti life and you just can't beat that! (Ok, you can, in the back of truck!)

That's a lot of books to balance.

Another improvement I saw was police officers directing traffic. Apparently they have resolved their differences because they were in full force throughout the city today. We saw arrested Haitians in the back of pickup trucks with armed guards more than once. There was also an interesting scenario at the market locations today. There are certain areas were markets aren't allowed because of heavy traffic. We followed a Police "wagon" as they pulled up to such a market. All of the women scurried to get their goods and escape the impending arrest. Some made it away and others didn't. But I'll tell you one thing, if I saw an officer approaching me with a sawed off shotgun, I would leave the goods! :)

Market Raid

This might not sound like an improvement, but I do think that a society is much better off with a system of law and order that is enforced. Most of you know how much I like structure, so of course I think it is a good thing! On the way home, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up cupcakes for the orphans. This was a new grocery store for us, so we took some time to browse. I picked up some coffee (Haiti's main export) and can't wait to share with the coffee drinkers at work. Of course, I couldn't turn up the opportunity to buy a cold coke. I even splurged and didn't go with Diet, but full on Coca Cola. It was the most refreshing thing I have ever drank (since the last time I had a Coke in Haiti at least)! It also helped my growing headache immensely. It was all I needed to refuel after a long, hot day on a bus.

"Courtney on Coke"

The kids also benefited from my caffeine burst.  Knowing tomorrow is going to be draining, I wanted to use tonight to get some quality time in with the orphans before it's time to head home.  Annanya and Eugenia took turns running to me so I could toss them in the air.  I haven't heard laughter like that since I was last able to tickle Jace back home.  Of course, playing with the orphans brought back the ache in my heart for Cousonal...

Annanya and her giggle!

I even jumped rope!

It was a joy to be able to treat the kids with the cupcakes. Clearly, the kids weren't familiar with cupcakes, because they kept trying to eat around the wrapper. As I showed them how to unwrap the cupcakes and eat with their hands, their eyes lit up!

Cupcake Frosting

Robin, Kelly and Tina also had made goodie bags up for each orphan. It is always so much fun to give these little guys dollar store items. Stickers, hair ties and cars will be cherished by the orphans and that is beyond rewarding.

I wrapped up my night by facing my biggest fear here in Haiti.  Not the mosquitos, not the threat of tarantulas or even those flying bugs in the mountains.  I am terrified of the turkeys that roam the ground of the orphanage.  Especially this one grumpy looking bird.  He has a huge disgusting,wiggly, turkey gobbly, thing and is missing more than a few feathers.  I can tell he's been in a few tufts and he wouldn't mind taking me out.  I can just tell by the way he shuffles his feet when I walk by.  It's his version of a turkey attack and I hate it.  I have to admit that I have screamed and ran when he's come up from behind me.  Then I remember that I shouldn't let it see my fear, so I turn to look it in the eye.  Then it looks at me and I run to the nearest adult in fear.  This happens on a daily basis.  I don't like him, and I'm not ashamed to say I hope I eat him before this trip is over.

My nemesis

Sorry my entry is so short tonight, but tomorrow is going to be grueling and I need to get some sleep!

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