Katie in Haiti update 4

Two things I’ve learned today: do not speak ill of roosters and the reigning NHL champs are the Pittsburgh Penguins, NOT the Philadelphia Penguins…

The roosters didn’t even have a chance to get going before someone in the IDP camp turned on the morning radio at 4:45 sharp…waking most everyone in our base.

Those who were able to fall asleep were next awoken by an abrupt shouting of “Quake” at 5:30.

Tearing out of a sleeping bag and mosquito netting to run to open air is quite the challenge.

Side note: we’ve all been well-briefed as to earthquake procedure at this point—nevertheless it’s startling when it happens.

So, it was an unexpected early start to the morning, but everyone was ok, and this was a very minor tremble.

In the HODR camp, Monday mornings are special for their Pancake Breakfast made by the international project directors, Mark and Steph.

Mom, have no fear—yours are still untouchable by far (not to mention I don’t even want to know what Haitian buttermilk would be like); that pinnacle of breakfast carbs aside, these were pretty darn tasty—especially when smothered with peanut butter and syrup (no judgment folks—you work in the sun all day, trust me, you’d want the protein too!).

Team Baby Jesus took off to the rubble site again—this time with the 3 guys from St. Bonaventure…who were eager to tackle the rebar and rock; and remind us all how much we loved college, but how glad we are to be out… Apparently they are here un-chaperoned (their professor’s flight was cancelled at the last minute—and they randomly break into shouts of “Sister Margaret,” their college president, for no apparent reason…you get the picture).

It was a very hot morning at the site and everyone was soaked within minutes, and sadly the kids weren’t around to wheel the wheelbarrows full of rubble.

That aside, we made significant progress and finally got into a nice groove right before breaking for lunch.

Today was by far the best lunch to date—rice and beans, with a spicy mash of yucca, carrot, onion, potato and jabanero.


Unfortunately, the influx of starch combined with the heat put us all into a food coma (combined with the treats of the new arrivals, reese’s cups).

But not to fear, Phil (the very large, hairy guy from Bono) had us singing in the tap-tap on the way to the site.

He and his two friends ran a car-wash at their school to raise money for their trip—which included a marathon singing of “Hey Baby, won’t you be my girl.”

So, at the top of his lungs, Phil belts this out (and also note that he knows all of the lyrics, including the “hoo” “hah” intervals) and of course we all join in.

Soon, all the Haitians we pass on the street are singing and clapping—and for once, they are all smiles when looking at us.

The ultimate moment though, was when we pulled up behind the Canadian military guys riding in their covered tank—and they start singing along too.

So now, for a good three minutes we’re all singing back and forth down the narrow streets of Leogane, much to the amusement of the Haitian children—“Come on Eileen” “My girl” and more.

We arrived at the site energized, sore from laughing, and in great spirits.

Despite our greatest attempts, we weren’t able to finish off the last of the rubble—it simply takes a long time to clear (with just shovels and wheelbarrows) some ten feet of stacked rock.

We hope (pray, is more like it) that it will be done tomorrow by lunch.

It was a really hot afternoon too, and many of us were markedly dehydrated and worn down—despite everything, the sun and the exertion are a wicked mix.

At the end of the day, the Haitian kids (who had joined in—including a round-robin singing of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with Phil) gave us a huge basket of mangoes they had picked for us.

I’ll skip ahead and let you know that they were delicious—incredibly sweet and with juice so orange it stained my clothes (another vanity I’ve learned to forego while here).

It took 2 tap-taps to get all 12 of us, plus the 6 wheelbarrows and tools back to the base camp, and mine took a deviated route, taking us by a street Philip and I had walked yesterday—but new to the other 3 in the truck.

It was a side-street and vastly damaged—and the others in the tap-tap remarked how sad this street was.

Much like our energy levels, the damage to each street and its hope for rehabilitation changes too.

A lovely bucket shower, that for once was taken during sunlight hours and not in the small beam of the headlamp, then some blister repair, application of bugspray and dinner… (plus, someone brought Girl Scout cookies!!)—it was a lovely evening.

Philip and I sat up on the roof for a brief moment where you can actually see the stars (a novelty for us city-dwellers)…plus, it was a nice respite from the group and the chaos and noise.

I thought the moment was pinnacled by what I thought was a shooting star (cute, no?)—only to be told “Katie, I think that’s a satellite.”

Back downstairs we had a rousing game of team trivia—sadly not as violent as Spoons (thank you again, Gilligan Christmas attendees) nor as contentious as Pictionary (I do not cheat—I have a gifted vocabulary) nor as competitive as Taboo (Bill and Jan, you would have liked this game).

All that said, it was a lot of fun and a good way to make friends with the team members…and humble oneself with how little you know.

Like which city the Penguins play for, the capital of Tanzania, and which football team (FIFA) is ranked #1.

While you’re pondering those, I’ll bid adieu, and hope for a day of normalcy—roosters, rubble, rice & beans.

And now, some rest.


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