Saturday, April 2, 2005

Had a productive week here (relatively speaking). I found a cybercafe at our corner and it actually works well -- 3 machines but I only need one. Having trouble finding a phone card, so I may have to depend on this for a few days. The hydro came on last night for about 8 hours, so we have some ice cubes today.

The house painting continues, and Mme. Carmene has started cooking. She is amazing -- she cooks, cleans and keeps everyone in check very quietly and efficiently.

Word of mouth is an amazing tool for communication. Many are at the door daily, as word spreads that we are here for the long haul. I helped one family with 8 children who had run out of money. We paid for 3rd trimeste for their oldest -- $120 Haitian. I don't want to see anyone lose a year of high school for $17US.

On Monday, I walked home with Jocelyne to take pictures of her children, as she had asked me to. (More pictures of Haiti) Thank goodness she walks me back to the road when our visits are finished -- one could easily get lost forever! Then I travelled to Esmann's house to see if he had space for that bed he wanted for himself and his siblings. It took us 3 hours to go and return, and 4 tap taps. We got caught in a blokus (traffic jam) each way as there was a large manifestation (demonstration) for Aristide.

On Wednesday, I tried to buy the bed for Esmann. I asked a neighbor who has a taxi to help us with the transport. We went to the first magasin (store) where I was told there was a bed. No bed, but picked up the owner who then took us to 8 different magasin-yo.

In 110F degree heat, one loses patience very quickly. We ended up at the magasin where I bought the beds for the house. When we arrived, I said in frustration, "If I had $800 to pay for a bed, I would have started here." Back we went to the 2nd store where miracle of miracles they now had a bed -- except it was just a frame for $250. So we bought it. We followed our guide through the market to the vendors of matela yo (mattresses) -- everybody wanted $500-800 for one. So we went back to Lakay Fondasyon and took one from the house. Man, do we need a container to ship stuff here.

On Thursday, Mme. Jacqueline, who does the embroidery, brought M. Ronald to the house at 6:30 a.m. He is a maker of those writing cards, and after some negotiation, he returned this morning (Saturday) at 7 with samples. A second card man came yesterday and will bring back samples on Tuesday. I told him the story of the starthrower and he nodded in understanding, then sketched a regular fish and asked if that wouldn't be better than a starfish for the card.

On Friday, I travelled by tap tap with Jack and Boss to buy ceramic tiles and cement as we are replacing the disastrous countertop in the kitchen. I hate to think of the microbes we unleashed when it was removed. We hired the taptap to wait and take us home with the supplies.

As I sat yesterday afternoon and shortened (by hand) a skirt which my sister had lovingly shortened by machine before I left (it needed to be redone as the hem had been chewed by a mouse), I was listening to the sound of 2 hammers pounding hundeds of little nails into the wood countertop to retain the new ceramic tiles, and smelling the garbage fire outside, and I couldn't help but wonder, when did this become the norm? Rhetorical, of course.

Kembe pa lage! (hang in there, don't let go!)


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