Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who I Am

Last night as we traveled the long road home from the airport in Raleigh. Israel and I had lots of time to discuss our thoughts about traveling to Haiti. When he asked me "What was the best part for you?" First thought was "Being with the children and meeting all the new children." So many things were my "favorite" things. But as I let the thougts mull for a few minutes I had a realization. I think I like who I am in Haiti. I like the freedom I have to choose not to be afarid which allows me to enjoy and experiecne more. In the US I would not dream of riding on a 4 wheeler in heavy traffic. With or without a helmet. In the US I am limited by what I think is safe and normal.I don't like to take chances and don't like to take risks. I always opt for safe and controled. In Haiti...well in Haiti there are no seat belts in the back of the tap-tap. You have to assert yourself and say "No". You touch germs and don't wash your hands right away.You hug children who may or may not have scabbies. In Haiti a mouse running across the floor is...well... it's a mouse running across the floor.
I am braver in Haiti. I am more confident. I am able to trust God more because I have to! I can't keep myself or others safe by American standards there. So...I relax and enjoy the ride. On the 4 wheeler, in heavy traffic, with no helmet.

You Should Have Bought a Squrirrell/ Final Part #3

As I sit here in the comfort of my air conditioned home after taking a hot shower and sleeping until 10 AM the excitement/anxiety of our squirrel chase seems almost mote. In it's moment it was huge but so much has happened in this past week that it is just part of the hardship of living in Haiti. But to be fair to my readers I will wrap up this post so I can move on to process so many other things that have impacted my heart this week...
Gwenn and Nick dialogued about what to do. The police man was now out of sight and our truck was at a stand still as the water rushed over the street. I saw in the light of day on our return trip to the airport that this area is bad even when it is good. There are ditches and potholes and most of the road here is not paved.
The gridlock is normal because of the aggressive driving in Haiti. If there is an open spot someone moves into it regardless if it is road or not. Regardless if is your lane or the lane of oncoming traffic. As I look back on this drive to Jacmel I see that God was preparing me for my next post...
I don't remember if I wrote earlier about Gwenn as a child. She was "the worrier" in the family. We would get in the car and she would ask "Are you sure we have enough gas?" as if to run out of gas was the worst thing that might happen to you. She was also my cry baby. Now I must say she is the toughest woman I know and that is saying a lot because Gretchen, my oldest daughter is a pretty tough woman. (Melody not so tough but she is after all my baby, she is strong, but not tough).
Nick and Gwenn were discussing if they should call their friend in the Jacmel Police Dept and decided to wait a bit. As we moved and stopped slowly through the rushing water in the driving rain we sometimes got small glimpses of the yellow rain slicker that the police officer was wearing. We edged our way through a narrow gap in the road past a large bus in the oncoming traffic perched it's outside wheels on the top of a hill leaving me holding my breath as we passed it for fear that it would drop on it's side on top of our truck as we passed. Cars in front of us stalled in the standing water and Gwenn and Nick and Jen discussed the work that Jen would be doing in Jacmel for the next 6 months working in a rehab tent working with people who had lost limbs in the quake.There conversation was easy and not at all stressed giving me the confidence to know that while to me this was a bad situation we were in at the moment it was not to them a fearful time. It was a Haiti normal thing.
Finally, as the traffic started to ease from the bottle neck we saw the police officer. He walked up to the car, handed Gwenn her license and told her to stop being a trouble maker. (In Creole..don't remember the exact translation.) We had a really good laugh about this!
As we continued our seemingly endless journey to Jacmel, Gwenn commented "Nick, did I miss my turn?" As we continued the road grew more narrow and the banana trees closer to the road. Gwenn stopped and turned the truck in the mud and went back from the way we had just come. We made our turn by the Texaco station and continued over the mountains hair pin turns and areas of landslide littered rubble until finally we reached Jacmel. It was a long,long, long,long,long road home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You Should Have Bought a Squrill/Part II

As we navagaited our way through the crowd who had assembled with their luggage outside the door we saw Nick looking like a caged animal on the other side of the fence. Well really..I guess we were the ones in the cage.He indicated to us that there was a long walk down to the parking lot. Israel and I turn to the right with him pushing the cart with about 180 pounds of luggage. We get no more than 10 feet when a Haitian man nealy pulls the cart from Israel's hands and insists on pushing it for him even though I am infatic that it is not necessary. I finally give in rememering Gwenn saying "If you get someone to help with your bags do not give them more than $1.00/bag. We get half way down the path and the man says "$10.00" I say "No, I will give you five." He says "No! $5.00 from you and $5.00 from him." I say "No." but Israel pulls $2.00 from his pocket and the man settles for $7.00.
Finally at the end of the walk that Gwenn calls the "walk of shame" past the many people who are calling out "God Bless you mame' I am hungry. Give to me money."
Our flight being delayed for an hour was not really a problem because Gwenn and Nick had to wait for someone else's flight a few hours later. We went on a diet coke search and finally returned for Jen. She did not have the good fourtune of sittingo next to a woman with a tiny teenly infant whom she could help out so it took her more than an hour to arrive at the end of the walk of shame. By this time is was raining HARD and it was getting dark.We traveled though Port Au Prince with bags piled on our laps and Gwenn at the wheel.
In about an hours time the rain was washing over the road and the traffic starting to back up.In Haiti traffic is well...a bit outside of my comfort zone. With puddles and pot holes threating to swallow us alive Gwenn manuvered the pick up past motos and cars and through small rivers that had appeared from no where. At one point in this a man in a yellow rain slicker knocked on Gwenn's window and demanded to see her driver's licencse. She questioned his authority and he lifted the jacket to reveal his badge and she produced the license..after we dug down through all the bags that were piled on our laps. The police officer took her license and walked away in the pouring rain. Nick realizing this jumps out of the crew cab and sprits down to road to confront the officer and comes back empty handed.

To be contuined....falling asleep again...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"You should have bought a squrill"

You know sometimes when people exagerate in their story telling in order to make a story more entertaining? Well this story isn't like that kind of story. In fact, I may even water it down a bit just so you will believe me!
Our trip to the airport in Raleigh was cake. Esay 15 minute drive from Nick's partents house. ( I won't tell the story about the night before when we got almost hopelessly lost when returning from our trip out to find the long term parking lot.Tom Tom apparently only works if you program the right address into it.)
Our two hour flight to Maimi was easy. We were engaged in deep conversations with a woman who told us how to treat ourselves if we should happen upon and infestion of botflys. She only discovered the remedy after the lavra was removed from under her skin.(Yet another use for duct tape!!) On the same flight was one of Isreal's high school teachers who was headed to Balieze for a jaugar show. It took me quite some time to realize that she was going to see animals and not cars.
Once on the ground in Miami we were glad we had packed sweat shirts after rememhering Nick say that Miami was the coldest airport in the world. If we did not have our above mentioned selection of outer garments we may have been tempeted to ask American Airlines for a blanket.If we had we may have ended up in a really ugly, loud arguement with an airlines employee over the $8.00 fee that would be charged to our credit card. However we would not have had a baby to carry around by the wrist as we argued (loudly) with the said airline employee as did this young mother who was being chared for the blanket. It made the time pass so it was all good. Except that we had more time to pass due to a one hour delay so the plane could get a new air filter.
We were seated next to a woman with a 20 day old baby. The Haitian woman left shortly after the quake and was happily headed home to see her husband, six year old daughter and her extended family.When we arrived at PAP everyting was different than last year. We had waited to leave the plane until everyone else was off in order to help our new friend carry her baby gear into the airport. may think this was a cleverly designed scheme to find favor with Haitians and get us to the front of the line. I assure you that that was not my plan. However, that was the result! I felt a bit embarrassed to be brought to the head of the line but not so embarrassed that I didn't do it. At customs I walked through in front of Isreal who was pushing our bags behind me. The customes man asked me something and I said "excuse me" To which he rudly replied "Al'e, Al'e!" Indicatating he had no paitence for my lack of language skills and that I needed to just move on. Great! Only Israel had the bags and when he said to Isreal " What is in the bags?" "Excuse me" Isreal replied. I tured back and said to man "He's with me." and again his reply was "Al'i, Al'i! ( Get out, move on, hit the road Jack) so we did....
My head is nodding as I write this..look for chapter 2 soon when I may or may not get to the "You should have bought a squrill part." Which of course is a quote from a movie. There really is no squrill in this story just in case you are a squrill lover and were hoping for a cute little bushy tale essay on why I don't even like sqruills.
to be continured... btw.. no spell check in haiti