Great Haiti Adventure: Day 2
Another early morning. Even earlier actually. I set my clock for 3:15 Haiti time (Eastern) so that I’d be ready for a 4 a.m. departure. Um yeah. I turned off the alarm and woke at 3:50. Thankfully Dad wasn’t quite ready either. Both of us desperately needed a cup of coffee. Still, we were on the road by 4:30.
Why so early? After yesterday’s manifestacion (protest), Dad wanted to get out of Port au Prince early. Wise thinking...we learned later that the activity picked up again by mid-morning. We would have been stuck again had we waited to leave.
The drive was fairly uneventful, at least as far as Haitian norms are concerned. Kind of rough for this privileged, white American. The roads were paved for the first 2 hours, but after that, we were on some really rough terrain. My Fitbit logged over 3 miles of running and it never logs anything other than actual exercise!
At one point the jostling was so fatiguing that Dad suggested I get out and walk ahead of the vehicle for a bit. I was reluctant, but only for a few minutes. My walk didn’t last long because I was embarrassed by all of the stares, but it did help me to loosen up my joints again! And, true confession, I am fairly obsessed with my daily exercise so even the 5 minutes of walking helped. I take some comfort in knowing Dad knows this about me. And honors it.
When we finally arrived in Gros Morne, we stopped for breakfast. I have no idea how a person would ever know this was a restaurant, but thankfully Dad has been around the block a time or 2 and has a few known places. We each chose a bottle of juice and ordered an egg sandwich. I don’t often drink juice but I figured I’m in Haiti...and I just let Dad order my food. Again, when in Haiti...The sandwich was a scrambled egg—maybe 2—on flatbread with a few onions and peppers and spicy ketchup. It was incredible! We sat next to the mayor as we ate. Turns out he’s also an ambulance driver!
Dad paid the bill, about $2 US for 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks, and we headed up the mountain to Garcin. We arrived to waves and hugs and lots of hand gestures. Have I mentioned that my vocabulary is all English, some Spanish, about 2 French phrases, and no Creole? I am however prolific with hand gestures! Despite the language barriers, I was able to communicate to some extent.
Dad and Denise have an apartment in a compound with a school and a church. After we unloaded our bags, we walked around and met the cooks in the “kitchen” and greeted the children in each of the classrooms. The smiles and energy of these kids!!!! Dad would tell them he is my “Pa Pa” and that my name is Sarah Joy. The kids clapped, but none of them was brave enough to try saying my name.
We decided it was time for a little rest, but I needed a 2nd cup of coffee first. Colin has been spoiling me with daily lattes. And at the very least, I have my Keurig to brew a quick cup of coffee. Here though, it’s much more of an endeavor. Dad pulled out a bag of freshly roasted beans. Not the 1 pound bag you buy at the market. This bag was probably 20 pounds! Then he attached the hand crank grinder to the table and put in enough beans for 2 cups of coffee. He filled a kettle of water on the gas stove and while it came to a boil, he placed the coffee grounds in a French press. He poured the water over the grounds and after 5 minutes, we had coffee. I like either almond milk or skim milk in my coffee, but you can’t buy those here. Dad does have a tin of powdered milk, so I used that. I miss my lattes, but there was also something very rewarding about this particular cup of coffee!
After coffee, a rest. And then, we walked through the village of Garcin. We talked to several of the locals and took photos. I tried my hand at a few words in Creole. Not my strong suit, but the people seemed to appreciate it. One of the oldest ladies I met gifted me with a papaya. When I met her I kissed her hand and she was so delighted that she hurried into her “home” and came to find me with her gift. I was so touched.
Some of the adults don’t want to have their photos taken. The kids, however, love it! It’s so much fun in this day of cell phones to take a picture and have the instant feedback. The kids laughed and smiled when I turned my phone around and showed them the image I’d just captured. Something tells me they don’t often see their images. I’m hoping to print off some of the pictures!
And now it’s almost dinner time. I’m eager for a fresh cooked Haitian meal. I’m eager to eat. And then I’m eager for a shower, albeit a lukewarm shower. I’m eager to fall asleep to the sounds of nature, the feel of a breeze coming in my window, and the smell of DEET all over my skin!