Katie update 2

Anyone who’s run a marathon will tell you, the first mile or so is torture—getting the limbs moving, setting a pace, adjusting to climate.

And the worst is when you pass the Mile 1 marker.

Because no matter how many races you’ve done, you can’t help but think: “only 25.2 more miles to go…”

Today was a bit like that.

Not yet calloused to manual labor, my shoulders ached (oh yeah, all that sledgehammering didn’t seem so “cool” this morning), my hands were permanently clenched in wheelbarrow-grip, and of course, there were the roosters.

But Team Baby Jesus was not about to be sidelined by sore muscles—and the 9 of us hopped on the tap-tap again for the second day of work on the mammoth project.

The marathon analogy applies here too; rolling up to the site was a huge reality check—there was so much rubble to clear.

I think yesterday we were so enthused to be tackling the project that we forgot some of the realities of the situation.

It’s not just the waist-high rubble, the hardest part is that first the entire roof has to be broken down and the rebar removed; tasks both physically and time consuming.

So we labored under 92-degree sun for four hours this morning—a task I would assign to a circle of Dante’s hell; as soon as one pile of rubble is cleared, another appears.

There is nothing moving, inspirational or encouraging about this.

And certainly not when it’s so hot.

One of the biggest challenges has been finding dumping areas for all of the smashed rock—and then showing the Haitian kids (who came back for more “games” today) where to dump the wheelbarrow piles.

They, however, with their universal precociousness and endless reserve of energy and zeal, are the reminders we all need during the moments when it gets trying.

Philip and others tackled the spider-web of rebar, sawing and hacking at the rusted metal under a very active sun.

I found myself shoveling and pick-axing rubble with the kids all morning—a task that tested both my remaining rotator cuff cartilage and my babysitting endurance (put young boys near wheelbarrows, rubble, axes and hammers—and someone’s bound to get in a tussle).

While we were working, a huge line began forming, apparently the UN was handing out rations of food, water and supplies, and hundreds of people were waiting hours in the sun to get their goods.

Despite our own fatigue, it’s sobering to have food and water in your packs while others stand in wait for these basic necessities. Team Baby Jesus paused around 11:30 for a walk through the back field to the GTZ prototype house—and met with the German architects responsible for coordinating the efforts.

They still plan on 1,400 units—to be constructed with pre-fab materials made in Miami.

Ideally, a house can be erected in around 3 hours with minimal carpentry required.

Much like marathoning, it is hard to imagine the miles left to go for these families in order to get them the housing that they’ve been promised.

All that said, it helps to know exactly “why” we’re helping these families clear their land.

After lunch, we wandered to the local “egg lady”—the woman who makes egg sandwiches and also sells cold Coke, and a mysterious beverage called Malta H (think Molasses meets non-alcoholic beer).

Then Philip left with three others to head towards a bank (i.e. three men in folding chairs outside a building; you keep going till someone gives you a 7.75 rate)—…and returned with a bike.

Of course, why not?

And who else would head out into an impoverished city, speaking not a word of Haitian Creole, and return with a working bike…for FREE?

Apparently, they met the local Don of the main Rue—a man named Laiyde—wearing tricked out sunglasses, typing on a blackberry and sitting with his posse under a UNAid tent on the side of the street.

Apparently even after an earthquake, Don Laiyde needed his man cave.

Alas, after a few low-ball offers and failed negotiations, Don L “rented” HODR his brother’s bike for a few weeks.

Everyone else was shocked and tickled to see the crew returning with a shiny blue bike (and took it for a few spins around our “dancefloor”)…I could only shake my head and laugh, only a tricycle would have made less sense.

I have no doubt that Philip will be doing a morning bike ride to keep up with his TriLife training…

Team Baby Jesus grew a bit, as we were joined by another rubble team in the afternoon—and worked diligently under an overcast sky; making seemingly triple the progress from the morning.

An occasional breeze, lots of help from the kids, and some swift blows from the sledgehammer…and all of a sudden it was much smoother sailing.

Despite two chipped teeth in the group from errant rebar, a host of blisters and cuts, and stellar glove-tans all around—we seem to have settled into a nice stride.

Dinner was, can you guess?, rice & beans with fried plantains and slaw—after today’s work, nothing could have tasted better.

It stormed for a moment, but is raining now—a refreshing shower that is sure to cool off the air, and no doubt flood the street canals and make a mudbath of our rubble site.

Thankfully, we have tomorrow off and are set to explore more of Haiti—and perhaps go see a beach, or visit another town.

This Blanca is looking forward to a nice few days of smooth running—and though no longer daunted by the vast amount of work to be done, if we’re using the marathon analogy still, mile 23 is still to come… In the words of Ryan Seacrest, Blanca out.


3 Responses to “Katie update 2”

  1. 1 Nathan T. Freeman February 28, 2010 at 10:47

    “And who else would head out into an impoverished city, speaking not a word of Haitian Creole, and return with a working bike…for FREE?”

    Someday we’re going to do the freeloader race, man. 🙂

  2. 2 Andrew Kiracofe February 28, 2010 at 11:44

    Thank you Katie for the update and thank you both for your hardwork.

  3. 3 mom February 28, 2010 at 12:23

    thanks for the update and for all your hard work.

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"beyond the fear of failure is the courage to explore new realms and expand your horizens - know no fear"

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