Breakfast at 7am. Two pieces of french toast with a side of mango fruit, washed down with juice.
Meet Barry to go jogging. We plan to drive to a big hill and run up it. But the car won’t start (our not so trusty 4runner). After fiddling with it some 40 minutes, we give up and take a different car, somewhat guiltily, because that other car was reserved, but we promise to be right back, ha.
Fight traffic. You always see something interesting driving through town. Today we saw a motorcyclist wearing a snorkeling mask (that was a new one). Then there are the vehicles broken in the middle of the street being worked on. Today we saw a large truck in an intersection up on a jack with a guy underneath working. Good grief. We drove around, carefully.
Then there are the tap-taps filled to the brim:
Arrived at our running destination: the BIG hill. Barry ran up the hill (nearly 5 miles). I walked/plodded up some of the hill (3.5 miles). Even so, I gained about 2,500 feet of altitude! Maybe it was a mountain. I had to pop my ears going up and I could feel the temperature dropping the higher I went.
It wasn’t the clearest day, but here is a picture taken with my cell phone from up high (looking over Port-au Prince):
Let’s see, not much else happened eventful on the run. Some people yelled at me, but most were pleasant and gave a kindly, “Bonjou.” One elderly women even proffered a, “Bonjou cherie” which translates to, “Good morning dear.”
A boy about eight ran along with me some 100 yards, then pooped out gasping for breath. This made me feel better. What didn’t make me feel better was dropping my cell phone on a rock and the screen shattering! Oops. Oh well, these things happen, fortunately I have a spare phone.
Back at the car we tanked up on cold Gatorade and headed back. And none too soon, because people were waiting on us to be taken to the airport. The traffic was terrible though and we inched along agonizingly slow. Whilst crawling along at least three beggars came up to our windows asking for something. I think we only gave money to the lady on crutches. It’s hard to know how to deal with beggars. I’ve been through this internal struggle in other countries as well.
On one narrow road traffic came to a complete standstill because two drivers in opposing lanes stopped to visit with each other through their windows! Needless to say, this backed up traffic both directions while they had a nice chitty-chat. Hatian culture is very social, but we laid on our horn to put an end to it, as we were in an American hurry.
Back at the ranch I quick hopped in the van to take a couple young ladies to the airport. One of them was oh-so-sick with dengue fever. This is an awful disease contracted through mosquito bites that makes one ache all over, have chills, throw-up, get a pounding headache, etc and lasts days.
With a cold compress on her forehead she staggered into the vehicle. As we lurched over potholes I looked back and saw she was cringing with every movement. Ouch, I felt bad for her. But no doubt my turn is coming. Dengue fever, here I come. Or malaria, or something awful, I shouldn’t wonder.
We arrived at the airport and were swarmed with the usual luggage “helpers” who accost everyone pulling up. I got out and three came up ready to help, vying for business. I looked at them with a serious expression and pointed to the sick girl, who at that moment was unceremoniously vomiting into a bucket, telling them, “Li ampil malad” (she is very sick).
Suddenly they backed up and didn’t want to help us so much anymore. Go figure! But I gave the biggest guy a few dollars to help, and he did, hopefully even finding her find a wheelchair inside. I tried making him understand she needed one, and I think he saw that was the case.
Let’s see, back at the ranch lunch was waiting, the usual standby of, “Viri ak pwa avec poul.” That is, “Rice and beans with chicken.” This is standard lunch fair and deserves its’ own blog post at a later date.
Read a book, napped for half an hour, drove to Deli Mart to get a new battery for my phone.
Took the 4runner to Deli Mart. Of course now it started up on the first try, unlike earlier in the morning with Barry. But funny thing is the front left brake caliper is stuck engaged all the time so the car pulls hard to the left. In fact, it pulls so hard if you let go of the steering wheel it just spins to the left! Never seen anything like it.
It got worse the further I drove. By the end the brake was so tightly engaged my back tires were literally spinning gravel just trying to move forward in 1st gear. Quick way to wear out the clutch, I shouldn’t wonder.
The wheelhub was blazing hot by the time I got back. So that’s another item to add to the “needs to be fixed” list. Along with the leaking toilet, the water handle that fell off in the shower, intermittent starting issues with two vehicles, our well pump that doesn’t always turn on when it should, the soap dispenser that won’t dispense, etc.
It’s not that Heartline doesn’t keep up on repair issues, they do. But it seems like keeping up with repairs here in Haiti is like that arcade game I once played as a kid where you get a hammer to hit little rubber heads that pop up with the goal being to smash them down as fast as possible but the faster I smashed the quicker they always popped back up.
Hatians even have a proverb about this: “Dye mon, gen mon.” That is, “Beyond the mountains, more mountains.”
At least my radiator patch is still holding.
Ho-hum, what else happened today?
This evening the Heartline staff got together with a lady (Karen) who is adopting two Hatian children: a brother (age 3) and sister (age 5). Karen and her husband have been in the process for three years and she has made over 20 trips down to Haiti. Seems weird, but I’ve picked Karen up at the airport twice already just since I’ve been down here.
So Heartline used to do adoptions, and these two kids are the last to be adopted through them. Yesterday all the final visas were acquired and they are all flying to America tomorrow! Tonight everyone got together and there was a time of sharing, and remembering, and praying, and even though I’ve only known Karen (and these two kids) a few weeks, it was still emotional.
Those little Hatians kiddos are gonna be shocked when they arrive in Vermont tomorrow. For one thing I’m pretty sure it’s colder in Vermont than Haiti. And isn’t it neat they arrive before Christmas?
Looking from the big picture they are very fortunate to be adopted because only some 51 children have been adopted from Haiti this year (due to endless bureaucracy). It’s estimated that even before the earthquake there were some 350,000 orphans in Haiti.
But what is also amazing to me is that Karen and her husband already have grown kids – they are essentially starting over again as parents. Brave.
Oh, did I mention Karen now has malaria? Yeah… visited over 20 times and gets malaria on the last trip. She’s pretty ill.
So now I’m heading to bed. I’ve already brushed my teeth. But I ate skittles while writing this so need to go brush them again.
Final thought: Despite attending three Christmas programs this past week (with one or two yet to go) it still doesn’t feel like Christmas. For one thing, I got sunburned today – it was close to 90 degrees!