Skip to content

The Gift of Haiti

October 12, 2011

After enjoying the glory of the sunset and savoring the meal I prepared, the Cannons and I sat on the balcony in the dark, engaged in quiet conversation.  The city was spread before us with only a few pinpoints of light here and there, and the last of the day’s light was fast fading over the Caribbean.  Suddenly a cheer went up from homes all across Saint-Marc.  The power had come on.  I thought about how in Canada we take electricity for granted, and never think about it as a cause for celebration.

After the two boys who shared our meal, boys who might not have had anything to eat today, left, we watched a service from the Cannons’ home church in Baltimore on Bill’s laptop.  The sermon was one of the clearest explanations of the respective roles of the members of the Trinity I have ever heard.  I was blessed.

Monday was a routine day for me, teaching at the school and then heading into the city to the fish market to find shrimp for our evening meal.  I was too late to get the really big prawns, but what I did get was fine.  I then headed into the main market for vegetables and chicken, and a set of plastic laundry basins, finally catching a moto for home to prepare supper and do my laundry (by hand).  I have refused to pay our housekeeper what I consider the exorbitant amount she asked for this service.

Tuesday I had planned to help Judy at Pierre Payen Hospital, but as I set out I received a text message that she had had to reschedule.  So I decided I would spend some time exploring the market in detail and check out some of the nooks and crannies into which I had yet to venture.  The market was extremely muddy from Monday night’s heavy rainfall, and my feet were soon caked with a thick layer of grime.  Undeterred, I found my way again and again into unexplored territory.  I came away with a very good teakettle, a rarity here.  Haitians are not tea drinkers.  But the real pleasure of the morning was the exchanges with people.  Coming out of the market I found one of the basins of water people set out for foot washing.  A very friendly young man insisted I remove my sandals and helped me clean the mud from my feet.  As I thanked him he returned, “You deserve it.”  I have no idea exactly what he meant.

Later in the afternoon Delson arrived with a 50-watt solar panel, two deep-cycle batteries, a controller and an inverter.  I now need to find someone to build me a mount for the panel that will both set it at the proper angle and prevent someone from making off with it.  Solar panels are a favourite item for thieves here.  Then I will have to get wire to connect the panel to the controller and I will have my own power system, providing me with unlimited computer availability, a fan to take the edge of the heat at night, and a lamp.  I will be able to use my electric clock again and charge my phone and my camera batteries whenever I want.

Today I was given charge of the class at school as the other instructors were otherwise occupied.  The students are starting to learn that although I am far less militant than the others, I am certainly no pushover.  My one-on-one student is beginning to complete his work, much to the delight of the school director.

The other instructors consider my laptop a wonder.  They are not computer literate and are unfamiliar with the breadth of the information available on the Internet.  They are amazed at how quickly I can access information.  I introduced Delson to Google Translate to assist him in a book translation he is doing.  As I helped him I realized how many idioms are a part of the English language and how hard it is to translate them into another language so that they make any sense at all.  Many of the students, being from well-to-do families are familiar with computers and would like access to my laptop to go on Facebook and watch videos.  The director took the pressure off me by banning anyone from touching it.

After school I headed for the market as usual.  I encountered a moneychanger in the street.  Since I needed to change some money I inquired what rate he was giving.  They often give a better deal than the banks.  What he offered, however, was too low so I walked away.  He ran after me so I told him the rate I wanted.  After some objection and me walking off a few times with him chasing after me, he agreed to a fair rate.  However when he counted out the Haitian currency he tried to pull a fast one and short me.  As I counted the money again and again to show him I was on to him, with him trying his best to confuse me, a little crowd gathered around us.  When I finally pulled some more bills from his wad to make up the shortage, there were hoots and cheers from the spectators.  The moneychanger broke out in a big grin and held out his fist for me to bump.  “Respect!” he said as he thumped me on the back.

The richness, the beauty, the colour and the magic of this country never cease to delight me.  Thank you God for giving me the gift of Haiti.

Sunset over Baie Saint-Marc from our balcony

Met this 3" fella in my bathroom

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: