abriko:(n) fruit about the size of a cantalope. the fruit tastes quite similar to another familiar fruit, apricot.
anana: (n) tropical fruit, also referred to as pineapple. I imagine this taste needs no description other than delicious.
We are eating well.
Out in the villages with the teams, of course we eat very Haitian cuisine. At home, some of the missionary families that I know eat more American cuisine but at my house, my roommates have always eaten a very Haitian menu, with a few exceptions like spaghetti and a few German inspired dishes since Susanne is German. The other day, when I was leaving Madanm Moise (Madam Mo-ees) was preparing fish and there was the head of a fish lying on its side in the pot. Apparently knowing I do not care for the fish, Susanne asked Mdme Moise to prepare some kind of beef or pork something or other for me. There are a lot of rice and bean combinations (called diri- pronounced dee-ree) that we have. You’d think they’d all pretty much taste the same. But different beans get seasoned different ways which not only affects the flavor but also turns the rice a slightly different color. Or maybe they use different kinds of rice…not sure, but I think its the former. And different meat sauces are prepared to go with each of the different kinds of rice. Each meal is usually served with pickliz (A spicy coleslaw like salad make with cabbage, carrots, onions and vinegar), a cooked vegetable, a fresh vegetable if its available (like tomatoes when they’re in season), diri and the meat sauce. Water is usually served as the drink and the meal is topped off with a partial glass of juice.
I am still getting used to eating the Haitian cuisine and it will still probably be a little while before I am really used to it. There are a some things we eat that I do like. We have a mixed vegetable dish made with carrots. eggplant, okra, and some kind of root, whether its potato, milleton or something else, depending on what’s available at the market. I really like that.
When teams visit the churches, we are also fed very well. Many people come to Haiti expecting to loose weight, only to find the opposite happens. Perhaps you can see why.
Bread: The Pastor’s Wife at Picot has been to school to take some classes on baking and the bread you see here and the cake you will see below are an obvious result of this training. I have been told that often, to make things stretch, Haitians will take a recipe as is and add a good bit of extra flour resulting in very dense bread and very dense cake
Banan Pese: Twice fried plantains. Slices of plantains are squished flat, battered and fried.
And my favorite: mangos. They make delicious pretty much anything…although I am fairly sad because mango season is just about over and it will be months before they will be in season again; unless you are near Port au Prince. There is a village there that has managed to grow them most of the year round. If I go through withdrawals, I might be worth the several hour drive in.
With the help of Susanne, I made mango, pineapple, abricot jelly on Tuesday. Susanne thought I was nuts because I was excited about making jelly- but its not something I’ve ever done before and I was happy to have the experience. We made about 8 cups of the jelly so we’ll having it for a while. Good thing, too. Because it was delicious! I even made juice with some of the mango that was left over and some additional grenadia (passion fruit) and it turned out really delicious too. There just might be some domestic possibilities to me, afterall! But don’t write home just yet. We should probably see if it lasts, first.
I'm settling into my house. Some of my belongings arrived about a week and a half ago and so I've been able to make my space feel more like home. Another cargo plane is flying into Cayes this Wednesday so I am hoping some more of my stuff will make it here but....who knows...as they say in Creole, dega je (not sure of my spelling) but a loose translation is "it is what it is, roll with it". Its what I've had to do most of my life so the concept is nothing new...=o)
I started language training this past week and have already been exposed to lots of grammar and new vocabulary so hopefully I'll make a quick study. I've been out with two teams (the teams come in from the states and travel out to their 'sister' churches where they spend several days working on projects and doing special services and events.) Being out with the teams has already proved very helpful in my acquisition of Creole as I have (on very minimal level) already been assisting a little in helping team members communicate (albeit fairly basic concepts) and as I continue to do so, hopefully it will only serve to reinforce the language training I am receiving. We have about 4 or 5 more teams coming in between now and November and I will be traveling with each of them as well as continuing with my language training (my biggest 'assignment" right now is to get the language down).
It was rainy season for the first five weeks I was here and now rainy season is over and summer has begun. Its getting quite warm and sticky and temperatures will only continue to rise over the next few weeks. So far the lack of A/C has not bothered me though and I am sure as it gets hotter I will grow accustomed to and appreciate more the cold showers. We were without water for over two days last week because there was a problem with the electrical wiring and someone had to go into Port to get a part. But because we have a backup inverter at my house, I was able to take showers, but we did have to cart in rain water to flush toilets and we had to bring in water from the other hill here at the Mission Center for drinking. Life is always interesting here in Haiti and everything take a beating- but usually manages to survive.
Last Saturday night, I was walking the 20 yards from my house to the Moses'. It was dark but the road is short and I know the path well. Unfortunately I hit some loose gravel and hit the rocks. I shredded my knee pretty bad and was in quite a bit of pain for a few days but over the last couple days its begun to heal quite well and the pain is minimal. C'est la vie...nan Ayiti. This is life...in Haiti.
I am starting to feel like I am really "gone" from my home in Florida. I have been here long enough to feel like this is no longer a vacation or a short trip, and I am beginning to really miss what I left behind. Loneliness is setting in and although I have people around me, the community I have here is very different from what I have always had. I understand that this is just all part of a process that will take time. When I have a better handle on the language it will be easier to make friends and build relationships. Until then, I am just praying for God to fill in those places of loneliness and I am leaning on Him for my strength.
Things are not all bad though. I am enjoying life here. I am enjoying the simplicity of things, while I miss the busyness of life in the states, at the same time. I took a motorcycle taxi to and from town yesterday for the first time. I felt very...local. I know I am far from being a natural here in Haiti, but riding through town on the back of a motorcycle, with the wind blowing through my hair, I felt like I had done it 1000 times, and it was natural. It felt comfortable.
My friend Jenn (whom I know from Jacksonville and is now living in Haiti) used to live in Cayes and was in town from Christianville, just outside of Port au Prince. We met for lunch at a sandwich shop where I had a cheeseburger and french fries and she had a ham sandwich. After lunch we shopped the market and I made my first clothing purchase; a skirt, which I bought for $3.75 (American). I am still getting used to the market. I've tried a couple times to describe the experience of going to the market but there has been so much to take in that I am still absorbing it all. Up until yesterday I had only been to the market outside, known as Kennedy ,which is almost always second hand goods (sometimes the goodwill price tag is still on the clothing) but yesterday Jenn took me to the upstairs market where there were actually lots of brand new clothing items, shoes, fabric, and specialty items. There were lots of things to choose from but it was extremely hot, so we mostly just walked through and back down.
I am slowly learning life in Haiti; I have made fresh juice, hung laundry out to dry, and hauled in rain water for flushing. I have shopped in the market, ridden a motorcycle taxi and fallen down a hill. C'est la vie. Its been good so far.