As I write this, someone just found a tarantula somewhere. I don’t want to see it. If I don’t see, I still hold hope that someone is mistaken. Maybe it’s just a large black toy. That’s what it is….
Ok, so I left off with beers last night. I woke up this morning thinking I didn’t sleep very well. See, my bunk is made of wooden boards, and I only brought a sleeping bag, which isn’t much cushion. And I sleep on my side. My hips were not happy. So I woke up a lot. That, and the fact that the 2,000 roosters in this town start crowing at 2 a.m. Aaaaand that I wake up every time someone leaves there tent during the night to go to the bathroom. But I guess I got better sleep than I had thought. I woke up to find huge puddles everwhere, and that is because apparently it rained, it POURED last night. Right next to my bunk (there’s an open courtyard a few feet from the bunk beds). And I didn’t hear a-THING! I wish I had, it might have been a really cool experience.
Anyhow, today Abby and I stayed in the house and worked on school furniture. We painted a bunch of tables and chairs in bright blue and green. All I could think about while we were painting was how happy these kids are going to be with their school chairs and desks. I love it!
So it was a long day, but nothing compared to what it’s going to be tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re actually going to be rubbling, aka, removing rubble. People come back from this exhausted, hot, sun burnt, and dirty. But quite satisfied with the work they’ve done. So I’m really looking forward to it.
A little more on our nightly meetings. At six o’clock sharp, everyone brings chairs onto the courtyard, and we start by getting a brief update on every project that was worked on that day. There are a few rubble sites, people that work in the hospital, crews that do house assessments (basically assess whether the house is save to move back into or not), working with children (on specific days), building the school, working on stuff for the school, and a few people that are working in the mayors office giving them advice on how to improve things (I really hope I get a chance to do this at least once).
A few other things I forgot to mention about yesterday: the UN and NGO presence is pretty astounding. There were UN cars everywhere, not to mention tanks and blue helmet soldiers.
Something that seems to be a sensitive issue around camp is the amount of food everyone is allotted. When we got our tour we were given the exact amounts of stuff we could get. The tour guide specifically said we’re only allowed one piece of meat until everyone’s eaten, and everything else should be served with the knowledge that about 99 other people have to eat also. At last night’s nightly meeting someone made an announcement that the “one piece” rule applies to EVERYTHING. That means the slices of tomato, the leaves of lettuce, the potatoes, etc. Again, not kidding. I will confess that when I first was given instructions, the one piece rules seemed to apply only to meat…so I did take two tomatoes. And my goodness, were they amazing (Pat, I think you would approve, that’s how good they are).
Going back to the day’s activities. Abby and I decided to venture out during our lunch hour today to explore a little bit. Mostly because of the above paragraph, we decided it might be a good idea to get our own stash of some stuff, so we don’t starve. So we decided to walk to the market (marche!). We soon found out that to get to the market you have to walk through the IDP (internally displaced people) camp. I’m sure most of you have seen these on TV in places like Africa, and maybe even here, since Haiti has gotten quite a bit of media attention. (By the way, I can feel myself getting eaten alive by mosquitos right now..and yes, I have sprayed myself twice already). It was a little surreal to walk through the camp. I was so focused on reaching the end of the camp that I didn’t want to focus on what was in front of me. Who would? We met a nice young gentleman of about 6, who did us the favor of guiding us through the camp to the market. The market is a huge open market. HUGE. And there’s rubble everywhere. We were a little confused as to where we were going and what we really wanted to buy, but we finally stumbled upon some packaged cookies. While paying for them, there was an incident at the stand next to us: a man in a motorcycle stopped quite aggressively in front of a woman who was at the stand-I think he actually hit her with the motorcycle. He then jumped off the motorcycle and grabbed her skirt, but she managed to jump away from him. At this point the man had already picked up a piece of rubble with each hand, and it seemed like he had every intention of throwing it at her. Abby and I were frozen in our tracks. Thankfully the people around there managed to get the man away, and an old man was talking to him. This is when I wish I understood what they were saying.
Alas, all was well, we bought our cookies, and continued with our quest: to find mango’s! Someone had given me a taste of theirs during lunch, and they tasted just like the one’s my grandma brought from Guate. Can mango’s from different places tast different, you ask? Why, yes they can. I honestly don’t think you’ve had a real mango if you’ve only eaten the ones from the States. They don’t have a lot of flavor, and they’re way too easy to eat! The ones here are full of flavor, they’re messy, they get stuck in your teeth, and they’re absolutely delicious! I had remembered seeing a few mango’s at a stand we had walked by earlier, so we made our way back there. Thankfully, as we were trying to talk to the man in charge about how much he was going to rip us off, the cook from our camp was walking by, and she took pity on us. She managed to get us a good deal: 10 mango’s for $3! And yes, they were worth every penny!
One final anecdote and I’ll let you all carry on with your lives: I had to set up my mosquito net on my bunk last night, and there was no string to use to hang it up. I miraculously found one piece of string somewhere, and I had the genius idea of stringing it apart so it would give me all the string I needed. It worked. But not until after I wished about 20 times that Jeff was there to help me out. I’ve become pretty useless without him :)