Great Haiti Adventure: Day 6
This morning began as all the others. Rooster crowing. Haitian brewed coffee. Bread soup. No egg this morning though. We only had 2 eggs and the cook recognized there would be 3 of us dining. Our soup was still filling and I cut open an avocado.
We left for the vanilla workshop around 8, and by we, I mean as many people as we could fit into the truck. 3 in the front seat and 4 in the back. And then as we were driving we came upon a family, neighbors, who were walking to church. We pulled over to give them a ride. There were a husband and wife, a young child, and a baby. The husband brought the baby to me to hold...oh sweet Jesus, those big brown eyes just stared at me...and the rest of the family crawled into the bed of the truck. We dropped them at the church and continued to the Agricultural Center.
We were on time, but most everyone else was on Haiti time, so I walked with a missionary to find a coffee before the workshop started. Getting a coffee literally means walking up to a tin hut with a charcoal fire. The cups were not disposable so we stood there as we drank, mine with powdered milk, hers without. We didn’t request sugar but that’s how they serve it—it’s almost like syrup. My teeth still hurt at the thought! It was fun to have a coffee this way. I suspect Dad would have discouraged me and I would’ve listened. But he wasn’t there, and so far my stomach is fine. They boil the water for coffee so I’m thinking it’s safe.
The vanilla workshop was exciting. Vanilla can take years to cultivate. It’s a huge time commitment but once it produces beans, the crop can be very lucrative. Because Alex is from Haiti, he is very vested in teaching people how to grow it and sell it and increase their income. Everyone was in good spirits.
We had a 2nd meeting following the 1st. Beginning next week, the local farmers will hold a market on Tuesdays to sell their produce. We met to plan this launch. The school directors and cooks have had to travel to another town for food until now. The vision is that the local farmers, the schools, and the local economy will all benefit.
I had an opportunity to briefly introduce myself and explain why I’ve been weighing school lunches and asking all sorts of questions. My hope is that when I return home and to Internet access, I can come up with some recommendations to enhance the school lunch program. I want to be extra sensitive here. The number of children who receive hot lunches on such little money is mind blowing. And all the cooking is done without electricity or gas or access to clean water. They are doing a phenomenal job. I am looking at the optimal combinations of protein and perhaps incorporating more produce. Tweaks.
We wrapped up and drove back to the apartment, but this time we had even more passengers! We made a stop for bread and it was still hot from the oven. Perfect for our simple sandwich lunch. And then, rest.
One side observation that has really surprised me. My body has been aching for days. The only thing I can equate it to is the fact that I’m not getting any exercise. I typically workout 1-2 hours a day. I knew you could get sore from beginning an exercise routine. I didn’t know the reverse was also true. I have a few crazy fears that I’m losing all my muscle mass and gaining weight and getting weak. Blah. Blah. Blah. But I also recognize the incredible gift of rest. I’m so driven that I never take this kind of time off. Not on vacation, not when I’m sick, not when I’m busy. Never. And so, here I am taking a break the only way it could ever happen. I see it as the gift it is. The gift I couldn’t or wouldn’t give myself. I am thankful.