I can hardly believe its just a few hours away from Saturday. Its been a whirlwind of a week.
Saturday. It rained for a few hours and flooded in Cayes and surrounding area. I heard there were people who died; about 20 or so from what I understand. In some places water was neck high. There are still low lying areas around Cayes and up further towards Port that are wet.
Sunday. While at church, my roommate’s car rolled down our hill and landed on its backside. I tried to get pictures several times but had battery problems and couldn’t get it with my camera. She had walked to church that morning so one was in in it. But its a strange thing to come home and find your car in a ditch, or a ravine, or not where you left it. It rolled down and then up a small incline, over a bush, and clipped a phone pole before landing on its back. Had it continued to flip backwards, it would have hit the house on the hill below us. Fortunately it stayed put and they chained it up to keep it from falling. Its in the shop now and seems repairable. It should be ready in about a week. Sunday afternoon my friend Lisa arrived in Cayes for a short visit. She brought me lots of lovely things like cheese , snacks, a chair cushion, flips flops, a cozy blanket and a white noise machine (thanks Alison!!!) We had Chinese food for dinner and made a plan to stay over night in the Bahamas on Monday night. She flew in with a friend who is a pilot, who has been doing relief supply flights to Cayes. The trip to the Bahamas was courtesy of him.
Monday. Benjamin took Lisa and me to the airport at 10am. Paul was supposed to arrive around 10:30am. Around 11:15, Lisa looked at me and said, “You have your passport, right?” I smiled and said, “nope”. She smiled and said, ‘You’re kidding right?” I smiled and said, “Nope”. And then I took a taxi back to the Mission Center- about a 15 minute drive on the oldest, most decrepit motorcycle in Haiti. I wasn’t afraid for my safety, only the comfort of my posterior. I retrieved my passport and took a 15 minute drive back on the oldest, most decrepit motorcycle in Haiti. I found out my driver is a farmer in the area who lost three of his cattle and many pigs and goats. He also lost some of his crops. Paul arrived and we left sometime after 1pm. We arrived in the Bahamas sometime after 4pm. It was windy and cold. We checked into the hotel, spent a little time there and then met some of the Methodist Habitat for Bahamas guys for dinner at this great little local restaurant full of mostly Bahamians and only a couple tourists other than ourselves. After a great meal, we took a taxi back to hotel and I went to bed.
Tuesday. I woke up still in the Bahamas. Its wasn’t cold but it was still chilly. We loaded up the plane at the Methodist Habitat hanger with some supplies for Cayes and took off around 11am. We arrived in Cayes around 1:30pm, Benson met us, took us to lunch at a local Haitian restaurant and then took them back to the airport where we said our goodbyes. I can’t even remember what I did Tuesday afternoon other than visit the hospital. But whatever I did, I was busy tying up the ends of things that were left on Monday. Oh, I remember; I got a call from Gary saying Dan Shoemaker and Kim Rose (the new VP of RMI) were in Haiti. He was in Port picking them up and would be back later that evening. I spent the afternoon making arrangements for their stay. And then after their arrival, we all went to the Chinese Restaurant, again. Often at the Chinese restaurant they don’t have what you want, so you have to come up with an alternate choice. I always order the same thing Schezwan Chicken, They’ve always had it however this night, the waitress told me they didn’t. I ordered my back up; honey garlic chicken. They didn’t have it either. I had take time to review the menu now, so I told her to come back to me. I can’t even remember what I ordered the third time, but whatever it was, it had chicken. A few minutes later she came back out and told Gary they didn’t have what he had ordered. So he reordered….honey garlic chicken. And miraculously, they had it. After everyone had gotten their food, except me (this wasn’t the first or the second time I’d been left til last) she came and told me they didn’t have what I ordered. In fact, they only had lobster. I could get whatever I wanted with lobster. Really? I don’t really even like lobster. But I was left with no choice. I ordered Schezwan lobster. And as everyone else was finishing their food, mine arrived.
Wednesday. The water pump went out on the other hill. My hill had water but the hill that the Guest House is on, didn’t. Well, they still had water but it was a slow trickle. It was enough to make do with but not to really cook and clean with. So, I had to get water carted over to the Guest House from the Depot where we store our trucks and other things. After the service on Wednesday I got a call from Dan. He asked if I had any cold cokes. He and Kim came up and we sat on dimly lit porch and discussed random things- the Haitian culture, ice cream machines and the iron work on the porch. After a nice chat, they headed home. I sent them away with toilet paper. Hey, what can I say, I am the Haiti Hospitality Coordinator, I do what I gotta do…know what I’m sayin’?
Thursday. I went to Baradares. We left Cayes at 7:30am. Its a small town about three hours away from Cayes. Its a rough ride on a good day. This wasn’t one of it’s better days. My neck and back are still sore. The route was up the mountains over some extremely rocky paths. This day, those paths were even rockier, slick with mud, and full of ruts and small ravines carved out by Saturday’s rain. I went because they were making a relief delivery of rice and beans and some other supplies and needed a staff representative. I was also going to take a few Hope for Kids pictures. I couldn’t get many school kids pics because school was still closed due to all the flooding. This was one of the places where water was neck high- in the school. They lost 10 church benches that the water washed out the door and down the road. It was rainy and foggy all the way up and most of the way back. I was hoping for a more creative way to describe the condition road rather than just say it was bad. Here is what I came up with. I held a pen to a piece of paper and let the road take the pen where ever it was going. Here’s what it looks like- this was over less than 5 minutes. Try doing it while driving around town and compare.
I visited the hospital after returning. I found Migline and Ginitte gone. And Gina was on her way out. I knew this day would come but wasn’t ready for it. The hospital seems a bit empty without them there. Others will be leaving soon. I’ll try and prepare myself better for their departure. Thursday night Dan, Kim, Gary, Marilyn, myself and a few of the Haitian staff went to a place called Gelee (Jehley) Beach for rice and beans, fried plantains, pikliz, conch, griot (fried pork) and fish. Its one of Dan’s favorite places and Kim needed to be introduced to good local cuisine. The food was great. We dined by candle light- small candles stuck in empty glass bottles, and stuck inside small plastic cups to protect the flame from the wind. Eventually the cups melt. But its a good idea while it lasts.
Friday. I received a message at 6:20am. Madame Ti Jean (one of the ladies who works at the Guest House) asked me to call her. That's not usually good. I called and found out the water was completely out. Sam was planning on taking over a couple more containers later in the morning but apparently whatever had been left in the pipes was now completely gone. They had no water and they needed it to prepare some of the food and to wash the dishes. I told her I’d figure something out. Benson came to the rescue again. They now have water; plenty of water. Sam took some more over later; in 2 large 10 gallon containers and buckets. I wonder how long it will take to get the pump working again. When the water was out on my hill, it took a week. The group staying there now is leaving in the morning but we have another visitor coming on Sunday. We’ll see what happens.
Saturday. It hasn’t happened yet. But Jenn is in town and we’re going shopping in the morning. By shopping I mean to the market in Cayes. I need a new purse. Did I mentioned the strap broke on mine this week? Yep, so I need a new one. And she needs a back pack. And I might try and find some cute shoes, really cheap…..
Sorry for such a long post. I should write a quick update each day, but as you may or may not be able to tell, by the end of each day, its been an exhausting adventure and I’m just too tired to sit down and process it all. Life in general has returned to ‘normal’ and the activities which fill our days may still be random but they’re less urgent than they had been. I haven’t heard much news out of Port either. I know there’s still lots going on there and lots of needs still exist, I just hope and pray that those needs will eventually be met and life can return to normal for those who lives have been turned upside; or at least maybe they can figure out a new standard for normal. I imagine that's probably more likely the scenario.